Foreign Minister holds first press conference since appointment

2020-11-06 15:57:37

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ On November 2, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia N.Enkhtaivan held the first-ever press conference since assuming office in July 2020. At the beginning of the conference, he briefed on the measures and resolutions he has made in foreign relations since he assumed office.

Minister N.Enkhtaivan introduced that following key activities have been implemented over the past four months in foreign relations;

One: Certain activities towards protecting citizens abroad and repatriating them to the home country,

Two: supporting the economy and attracting investment during the pandemic,

Three: raising the reputation of Mongolia, activating and intensifying external relations,

Four: events such as the UN, international, regional and bilateral meetings, conferences and workshops,

Five: developing sustainable and unified foreign policy and improving the legal environment and discipline,

Six: expanding foreign publicity and cultural cooperation

Seven: upskilling the personnel and improving internal works and disciplines of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were conducted.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will work within the framework of 13 main activities.

1. To fulfill 10 goals reflected in the Government Action Program for 20202024 2. To raise Mongolia’s reputation abroad

3. To upgrade legal environment for foreign relations and foreign trade

4. To diversify export by encouraging production of non­mining products within the framework of “Mongol Export” Program

5. To increase the volume of foreign trade sustainably and reduce trade deficiency

6. To intensify export to the Russian Federation

7. To increase foreign investment

8. To repatriate Mongolian nationals stranded abroad due to the pandemic in cooperation with the State Emergency Commission

9. To complete study on establishment of Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union

10. To move forward issue on construction of gas pipeline that connects Russia with China through the territory of Mongolia

11. To commission Biocombinat state­owned factory to be built with USD 57 million loan from the Government of Hungary

12. To implement USD 350 million MCC Water Compact aimed at improving water supply of Ulaanbaatar city

13. To establish agreements on mutual free travel with Slovenia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Maldives, Georgia and the United Arab Emirates in 2020-2024 and to increase the number of countries that grant visa-free entry for Mongolian nationals to more than 70 countries.

After outlining the actions he has taken, Foreign Minister N.Enkhtaivan answered questions from journalists and the answers are as follows.

What plan do you have to reduce political influence in the embassies representing Mongolia abroad? How do you supervise appointments of ambassadors and the actions of diplomats?

-There is no political influence in the appointments of ambassadors and other diplomatic posts. I state here that no appointments will be made in this manner. Professional, fluent, and moral specialists will be selected for diplomatic missions, particularly embassies. In general, it is our principle that people working in the foreign service should be appointed to embassies. As stated in the article 33 of the Constitution of Mongolia, the President of Mongolia shall appoint and recall heads of plenipotentiary missions to foreign countries in consultation with the National Parliament. Therefore, the final decision regarding the appointment is made after consultation with the President and parliamentary approval.

Could you elaborate on how you supervise appointments of ambassadors and the actions of diplomats?

-We provide a special course for recently appointed employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions. We solved some issues regarding diplomatic and official passports last month. A total of around 6,000 diplomat and official passports were revoked. Moreover, diplomatic vehicles were newly registered and illegitimately obtained registration plates were revoked. Trackers were also installed in the vehicles, allowing to keep track of them, and diplomats on trips abroad are now making monthly reports

The President withdrew 10 nominations for ambassadors submitted to the previous parliament. Will there be new nominations?

-By law, new nominations shall be made and submitted to the Cabinet, President and the Parliament. 7 ambassadors who had overstayed their posts have been recalled and there are more than 10 others whose terms expired this year. The parliament will approve the appointments of 20 ambassadors within this year. Over 10 ambassadors’ terms will expire next year. A total of 30 new ambassadors will be appointed with 20 appointed around the end of this year and 10 more the year after. We plan to first have the 10 ambassadors who have overstayed their term limits recalled by the parliament.

You have met with both your Russian and Chinese counterparts. There was some rumours highlighting that the countries insisted Mongolia to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization. What is your stance, as a Foreign Minister, on this rumour?

-During his visit to Mongolia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a proposal asking Mongolia to join the organization as a “full member”. In addition, Foreign Minister S.V.Lavrov also brought up this matter during my visit to Russia. Mongolia has been in the organization with “observer” status since 2004. The status remains the same. At the summit held in China in June, 2018, President Kh.Battulga stated that Mongolia is possible to advance its status in the organization and said that the country will continue to thoroughly study the possibility. This is Mongolia’s current position in this regard.

During the period of previous cabinet, the Third Neighbor Trade Act has been submitted to the U.S. Congress. At what stage is this process on?

-First of all, Mongolia-U.S. bilateral relations are expanding in a strategic level. The bilateral trade volume has been relatively increasing compared to 2019. To specify, Mongolia has exported USD 26 million in goods to the U.S. and imported USD 290 million in goods from the U.S. Moreover, the U.S. has provided USD 240 million in assistance in total since 1991. For now, we are working in cooperation with the U.S. to implement USD 350 million MCC Water Compact to improve water supply of Ulaanbaatar city. We are expecting the Third Neighbor Trade Act to be passed by the Congress in the near future.

Are there any other visits planned for this year?

-There are no other visits planned for this year. However, the plan for next year’s visits is now done. As the plan includes high­level visits, it is not possible to disclose information regarding the visits. Mongolia will continue to keep relations with its two neighbors as well as third neighbor countries, organizing regular mutual visits.

Now that the Local Council Elections are over, will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organize any training for local councils?

-Those who are greatly involved in foreign policy activities work at public organizations in rural areas. Thus, a training session is planned for aimag governors, deputy governors, and foreign relations specialists this December. The training will include special classes on how one should conduct oneself in a professional manner and how to interact with foreign delegates. At my initiative over a month ago, a comprehensive training session was organized for deputy ministers, state secretaries, and foreign relations officers from all ministries on Mongolia's foreign policy. The cabinet led by Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh currently implements one­window policy for foreign affairs. I also support the implementation of the country’s foreign affairs' activities through the one-window system.

It should also be noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has 13 departments and 5 divisions, with a total of 147 staff members. 80 percent of the staff acquired education abroad, and 62 percent is specialized in foreign relations, while 38 staffs are specialized in international law or economy. 81 percent of the total staff members are also proficient in 2 or more foreign languages.

Mongolia has established diplomatic relations with 192 countries, and maintains cooperation with 78 international organizations. 1,318 agreements are signed with 192 countries, while there are 294 agreements signed with international organizations.