Semi-Centennial Anniversary of Diplomatic RelationsPolitics
This year we happen to witness a momentous landmark in our bilateral relations with Turkey as it marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Although our relations marks 50 years, the two countries share a number of common features in language, culture, and traditions and have deep historical ties. Our people has been enjoying the brotherly relations through centuries.
After becoming a full member of the United Nations, the attitude of the major western powers changed and they started establishing official relations with the Mongolian People’s Republic. As favorable conditions emerged with the beginning of a new period in our history of international relations, talks on establishing diplomatic relations with Turkey started in 1963. In fact, the basic talks were held between the ambassadors of both countries in Moscow. As a final point, the statement published in the “Unen” newspaper on June 24, 1969, was as follows: “The Mongolian People’s Republic and the Republic of Turkey have decided to establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level. The ambassadors will be mutually appointed hereafter”. Mr. Khosbayar Oyun, Ambassador of the MPR in Belgrade, was appointed the first non-resident Ambassador of the MPR to the Republic of Turkey in Belgrade, and the Turkish Ambassador in Moscow, Faut Bayramoğlu, was appointed non-resident Ambassador to the MPR. These events were the beginning of the contemporary relations history between Mongolia and Turkey.
The first 25 years of diplomatic relations passed during the Cold War. After the end of the Cold War, a huge space was occurred in the 1990s as a background for developing bilateral relations. Since then, the two Governments have concluded more than thirty agreements, the very first of which is Friendship and Cooperation Agreement. It’s necessary to note that we have made this agreement with only a few countries. Over the last 25 years, the bilateral relations have been successfully developing and strengthening.
In 2011, Mongolia declared Turkey as its “third neighbor country” in its Foreign Policy Concept adopted by the Parliament. The fact of placing Turkey alongside with USA, EU, Japan, South Korea and India shows the importance of strings attached to this country. It was an important decision to elevate the bilateral political relations and cooperation to a new level with an ambitious goal to further expand the comprehensive partnership. Based on this decision, the both sides have agreed to bring bilateral relations to the strategic partnership level, which was indicated in the joint statement released during the Turkish Prime Minister’s visit to Mongolia in 2013. The name of Orkhon Valley echoes in the hearts of our peoples, touching the most delicate strings of the soul. In this regard, the Presidents and the Governments of both countries have agreed to cooperate toward the establishment of a touristic complex in the Orkhon Valley in order to promote tourism.
The focus of our bilateral cooperation today is to enrich our successfully developing comprehensive partnership with economic aspects and strengthening the cooperation in the field of trade and commerce. The Intergovernmental Joint Economic and Trade Committee is an important mechanism which plays a key role in Mongolia-Turkish relations. Since the political relations are developing steadily, the priority goal to accomplish for now is “fixing” the stalled development of bilateral trade and economic relations. Although the establishment of flight between Istanbul and Ulaanbaatar through Bishkek, and non-visa regime made a huge contribution to the facilitation of bilateral relations, it’s a reality that the geographical distance and absence of daily direct flights affects the development of these relations. It’s obvious that the daily direct flights as well as air cargo transportation attracts business people in the first place which means a foreign investment flow. Turkey’s population is 82 million and every year 5-6 million Turkish tourists travel abroad and meanwhile; Turkey receives 40 million foreign tourists. Moreover, Turkey is one of the world's top destinations for international medical tourism as nearly 1 million foreigners visited the country last year to receive medical treatment. Turkey has earned roughly $1.5 billion from medical tourism in 2018 and could increase this figure five times by 2023. These figures show the intense development of its health sector. Recently, the number of Mongolian patients coming to Turkey for treatments has been increasing. So, this field is also a great opportunity to develop a cooperation. But the key factor leading to the stalled development of bilateral trade and economic relations is the lack of information about the current development progress of both countries among the general public as well as business groups. Last year, the turnover of bilateral trade volume was only $45 million, however we have established a goal to reach $300 million. Turkey’s investment to Mongolia is just over $20 million which is extremely frustrating. As I see the situation while being posted here, we could turn the obstacles into an asset by focusing on opportunities to produce goods and services not commonly available to one another. Nothing is impossible with a good will and mutual initiative. There is huge unexploited potential for bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, education, and science. In this regard, I’m confident that the initiative to establish the FTA between the two countries would contribute to the people-to-people links and open wide range of possibilities for further expansion of bilateral relations and cooperation between our two countries and accelerate the economic cooperation.
Turkey’s investment in the field of education in Mongolia must be mentioned as well. Since the beginning of 1990s, more than two thousands of Mongolian young people have gained their higher education in Turkey, including those who benefited from the Turkish scholarship program, and 60 percent of them work in the private sector. This field became a bridge for the bilateral relations. The important event for the promotion of scientific cooperation and encouragement for the scientists of both countries occurred in the end of last year. The leading scientific worker of the Institute of Language and Literature of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS), State Honored Scientific Figure and Academician L.Bold has received the Social and Human Sciences award from the Turkish Academy of Sciences. The award was presented by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the ceremony in the Presidential Palace. He studied about ancient Turkish language and monuments between the 7th and 8th centuries and as a result, he published the four-volume book named ‘Heritage of Orkhon Inscription’. Recently, Turkologist Prof. Nurettin Demir translated into the Turkish language the famous Mongolian writer Tschinag Galsan’s novels “The Caravan” and “Stories of Tuva”. The Orkhon Valley is the place of which every Turkish people speak with heartfelt affection and respect as they consider it as a land of their ancestors. The most important of all are the monuments of Kul Tigin, Bilge Khagan and Tonyukuk. Mongolians deeply appreciate Turkish Government’s, especially TIKA’s support and assistance in safeguarding the Turkic historical heritages preserved in Mongolia.
Since 2003, the two countries have institutionalized their defense cooperation through various joint agreements. Consequently, Turkey is one of the greatest partners of Mongolian defense cooperation. Turkey also provides significant assistance to Mongolia’s police forces. So far 90 officers of Mongolian Armed Forces graduated from the Turkish Military Academy. The high level reciprocal visits in this sector are becoming regular.
Mongolia deeply appreciate Turkey’s strong support for Mongolia’s full accession to the OSCE, where it’s an only Asian state that became a full member of the Organization in 2012, as well as mutual understanding and cooperation within various international organizations. Turkey is a country with strategical geographical location bridging Europe and Asia, and at the same time, it’s an important member of NATO and G20. Despite, a small country located in Northeast Asia, moreover, Mongolia is NATO’s active partner for dialogue and established a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with EU. Therefore, we believe there is a wide opportunity for bilateral cooperation within the EU, OSCE and NATO’s framework. Both countries share common concerns on global security issues. The Intergovernmental Agreement on Counter-Terrorism was signed by both parties in 2010, and in accordance with this agreement, our countries always stand by each other in struggling against international terrorism.
Based on historical connection and mutual friendship, we have reached the semi-centennial anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations supporting and standing by each other as friends and partners. I believe that we would further expand our cooperation by all means and evolve these cherished relations into the strategic partnership level. I would like to highlight that Turkey isn’t only a strategic partner and reliable ally, but moreover, is a country with whom we share deep brotherhood bonds.
By H.E. Mr. Bold Ravdan
Ambassador of Mongolia to Turkey