L.Purevsuren: “Mutually Beneficial and Friendly Cooperation Will Be Exercised in Ties with China and Russia”

The following is an interview with Mr. L.Purevsuren, the Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Mongolia.
-Have the dates for foreign visits of the new President been set? From what we have heard, the President is starting his visits abroad from the two neighboring countries.

-President Battulga will attend the Eastern Economic Forum, expected to take place between the 5th and 7th of next month in Vladivostok of Russia, at the invitation of the Russian president. He is not only attending this forum, but also plans to pay a working visit. It is expected that our President will exchange views on Mongolia-Russia relations with Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation.
-It has been reported that the President is also heading to Budapest at the end of this month for the World Judo Championships.
-Although the President had been elected the head of state, he is still leading the Judo Association of Mongolia. The World Judo Championships will be held in Budapest, later this month, as well as the election for IJF President. It is expected of him to participate in this event as a leader of national judo association of the country. However, of course, the Hungarian side will welcome the President as the head of state of another country. It is a private visit for the President and all costs will be covered by the President himself.
-What outcomes are expected from the Eastern Economic Forum for Mongolia?
- It will be the first time for Mongolia to take part in an important regional economic gathering in Northeast Asia on the level of head of state. The President will also be accompanied by representatives of businesses, related officials and several ministers. Russia, China, Japan and South Korea and other regional countries are sending high-ranking representatives of politics and business. EEF will also incorporate a Mongolia-Russia Business Forum, during which we plan to present major projects intended to be run by the Government.
-What issues can be resolved during President’s visit to Russia?
-Our two countries have active and friendly ties in politics. However, it is not the case when it comes to economic cooperation. We need to renovate the joint railroads and widen the corridors. There are also the unresolved problems of energy cooperation and infrastructure. The foremost priority of the President will be export-targeted production of Mongolia. The number of livestock in Mongolia is already exceeding 80 million. The Siberian market used to be a platform for Mongolia. Unfortunately, as of today, we are being unable to export meat, wool and leather on this market. This matter will be considered very seriously during the meeting of two presidents. The President has set a goal to bring the Mongolia-Russia ties to new heights. The dialogue, in my opinion, will become an important step to determine the future perspective of relations between Mongolia and the Russian Federation.
-What are the priority areas of foreign policy, as defined by our new president?
-In foreign policy, continuance is the most crucial. The concepts of National Security and Foreign Policy of Mongolia both provide that maintaining balanced and equal ties with the two neighbors is a priority in the country’s foreign policy. Therefore, President Battulga attaches great importance to ties with the neighbors. Until 1990, Mongolia’s southern border was closed and we had relations only northward. Nevertheless, economic ties with our northern neighbor have almost disappeared within the last 27 years. The economy has inclined towards the south. The President means to fix this. Nonetheless, it will not mean that Mongolia will be paying all its attention to the relations with Russia and limiting the cooperation China, in the sake of what is reflected in the Concept of National Security. Relations with China will be expanded in the future, as well. The President wishes to upgrade Mongolia’s relations with Russia to the level of that between Mongolia and China in a very short period. Because our new president comes from business sector, he follows a principle that any deal must be mutually beneficial, so that it can survive in a long-term.
He also takes a stance to maintain the development of “third neighbor” policy. In that order, he will also hold meetings during the Vladivostok forum with the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of the Republic of Korea. High technologies are the key to industrial development. However, it needs major financing, which requires involvement of third neighbors. Another focus will be this.
-Mongolia has an observer’s status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Can this status be changed?
-Mongolia is the first observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and 12 years have passed since the status was granted. Situations in SCO have been changing, as well. At first, it was the “Shanghai 5”, and now it has become “Shanghai 6”. During the last SCO Summit in Astana, India and Pakistan joined SCO afresh. With these entries, SCO has now turned into a major organization, broadening its horizons throughout the region. Mongolia is watching very closely where this alliance heads. We need to carefully observe whether it is going to be an economic platform or a military-political union. Mongolia should keep up with other countries if SCO is going to be an economic alliance. This means the issue of Mongolia’s entry to SCO also depends on the organization’s own motives.
-Mongolia is left out of the Belt and Road Initiative of China. Mongolia is supposed to be one of its closest neighbors. However, route to London and gas pipes from Russia are not passing through Mongolia. Will the President implement policies in order to get involved in the Belt and Road?
-It may seem very obvious that our country is left out, because previously the Trans-Siberian railway, the only railway that used connect Asia with Europe passed through Manjuur and Mongolia, but today, the situation has changed and there are more corridors and passages. We have obviously been trying to be an active player in this. This is the reason why the initiative of Economic Corridor between Mongolia, Russia and China has come up in the first place three years ago. The agreement was signed a year ago by the three sides. A total of 32 projects have been designated, being considered the most viable. Most of these projects include works that have to pass through Mongolia to connect Russia and China. This is high time we decided which project to start with.
-Is it true, during your attendance in the inauguration ceremony of the Iranian president, you have told a local media that Mongolia is against the US sanction on North Korea?
-It is false information. An inauguration ceremony was held on August 5 for President of Iran Hassan Rouhani after him being re-elected to the office. As the Foreign Policy Advisor and special envoy of the President of Mongolia, I attended this ceremony, which attracted delegates from 105 countries and 25 international organizations. Heads of state of 20 countries and many other high-ranking officials were invited. I was welcomed at the airport by a head of Standing Committee of the parliament of Iran on August 4. We talked for a while and headed to the hotel. During our meeting, an Iranian TV Channel was recording us. I have not made any statement at that time. I would like to responsibly note that no statement have been made about Mongolia being against the US sanctions. As a member of the United Nations, Mongolia is obliged to follow the decisions made by the UN toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially the sanctions on that matter.

Interview by M.Munkhtsetseg, “Daily News”