E.Sonintogos: Mongolia has many cultural valuable items which are of significant value in mankind history


Mongolian University of Arts and Culture, the UNESCO Office in Beijing with support from the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO is going to organize ‘Culture and Development’ Conference in Ulaanbaatar between December 12 to 14. The following is an interview with the E.Sonintogos, the director of the Mongolian University of Arts and Culture, the initiator and organizer of this event. The article is translated from the Unuudur Newspaper.

-Could you inform us more about the upcoming ‘Culture and Development’ Conference to our readers?

-There are many misconceptions among people that culture only refers to artists. On the contrary, culture is considered as the root of the sustainable development and independence of any country. Hence, in December 2010 the UNESCO 69th session made a resolution to hold a worldwide Cultural Forum in 2013. Countries are holding their cultural conferences in advance to this. We submitted our request to organize this conference to the UNESCO last year. Hence, our request was supported by the UNESCO Office in Beijing and the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO. In addition, the establishment of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism this year also very positively affected in organizing this conference. Working group to organize the conference has been recently established. The conference, which would be a complex of different activities including; international conference, cultural workers workshop and discussions and exhibitions, is set to be held December 12-14. Reputable researchers from the UNESCO will take part in the conference. Some cultural organizations are also going to present individual exhibitions. Research conference on the Cultural Heritage studies took place last week and many people shared their ideas.
-Culture covers very wide range of areas. What was the reason of the discussing about cultural heritage on the first research conference?
-There are very limited activities taken in the field of cultural heritage in Mongolia, though we have very rich cultural heritage. It is significant to approach this issue from a scientific aspect in: studying, inspecting and promoting the cultural heritage of Mongolia. It’s time for the scientists to unite: their potential on this, to implement collaborative projects and programs, and to renew our research methodology. To turn government and business sectors support towards the scientists and researchers. There are many things to do such as to preserve our cultural heritage and to boost profits from raw materials. Many historical findings including valuable tombs have been found in Mongolia. But, do we have storage facilities like museums or galleries to keep those valuable items? Mongolia needs many museums right now and the history and pride of Mongolia can only be revealed at such places. Participation of Mongolian citizens and their courage and patriotism in an issue that is so important if we are to safeguard the items of cultural heritage. The participants in the conference also highlighted this. Mongolia has extremely valuable cultural heritage worth preserving but we lack the necessary museums dedicated for their protection.
-Are these the biggest reasons for holding this cultural conference?
-Mongolian culture holds a significant position in the common heritage of mankind. The culture and traditions of nomadic Mongolians and their relationship to nature are deemed very valuable in this modern time. Things which we think of as conservative or obsolete are becoming more valuable. I think the current period can be seen as a time of revival for Mongolians. The role of culture is very important in the development of Mongolia to become an active member in the international community over the next 50-100 years. I hope people are aware of rapid development of Mongolia is not only based on profits from mining resources is our cultural heritage.
-Sufficient funding must be very important in preserving our unique culture heritage.
-The financial issue is definitely a double edged sword, both advantage and disadvantage. We didn’t have enough money to be spent on arts and culture before, but some affluent people and businessmen who would invest into this sector are becoming more common now. Wealthy people of Mongolia are also starting to contribute to the development of our national culture. We hope that not only people, working in the cultural sector participate in this ‘Culture and Development’ Conference but also other sectors like; economic, banking, finance, engineering, and educational workers as well as NGOS.
-What results are you expecting from the conference?
-The ‘Ulaanbaatar Declaration’ will be made at the conference. We are hoping to reach an agreement on the issues regarding: what kinds of projects should be implemented and how should we cooperate with business as well as international organizations. We are operating a website to gather suggestions on this.
-When do you think that Mongolians started disregarding their culture and tradition?
-Only 20 years ago, if one spoke a word about Chinggis Khaan, they would have been fired from their job. Folk songs and the national anthem were only sung on large state occasions. The wearing of a Deel was said as old-fashioned. Today, Mongolians now celebrate the birth of Chinggis Khaan and can wear our traditional costumes as much as we want. Time has changed this much. Our language and culture won’t be forgotten while there is still life in Mongolia but the concern is that the rapid change in the Mongolian people’s lifestyle is a real risk to our cultural heritage. Thus, this is one of the main reasons to organize this conference.

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