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SOCIETY Magazin 358

MONGOLEI BOTSCHAFTER Mongolia. Precipitation is low. When there is plenty of rain, which is rare, the land cannot immediately absorb much water and hence we have seen flash floods. We are trying to take some measures, e.g. planting more trees, but in some places they cannot survive the harsh climate. Trees should grow deep roots to reach ground water and be above the freezing point. What about air pollution? Why is it such a problem? Air pollution is the number one problem in cities, especially during winter. Our capital city faces a big challenge because it was originally meant for around 600.000 people, but now twice as much people live there. In Ulaanbaatar we don’t have enough buildings to accommodate every family. So, many people live in ghers (ghers are tent-like portable dwellings that nomads use to change places three to four times a year depending on the weather) and in winter they burn coal and wood for heating. The pollution is quite high. It affects mostly the health of children and of the elderly. There are a number of ways by which we can address the problem, the main being building more apartments with a central heating system. The more immediate solution is to introduce clean burning technology, for example clean the coal itself so virtually no dust is emitted. Austria has such a technology. What is the winter like in Mongolia ? Sometimes in winter the temperature reaches fifty degrees below zero. It is usually sunny, but cold and dry. One of the exotic characteristics of Mongolia is that due to cold there are lots of preserved objects in the soil, whereas in most other desert regions things have turned into oil. That is why the land is very rich in historical and archaeological artefacts and findings. Thus many dinosaur fossils dating as far back as 88 million years have been found; also dinosaur eggs, embryo, etc. That is one of the positive effects the cold weather (laughs). Mongolia has a pronounced anti-nuclear policy. Why is that and how does it work? It is both a political and a socio-economic issue. During the Cold War we hosted Soviet military bases some of which had weapons of mass destruction. In 1969, during the height of Sino-Soviet ideological and inter-state dispute, the Soviet Union, worried that China’s nuclear arsenal was increasing, entertained for a 18 | SOCIETY 2_11 while a thought of a pre-emptive strike against Chinese nuclear weapons facilities. At that time they turned to the United States to know their possible reaction. Luckily the Nixon administration was thinking of opening up to China and use it as a counterbalance to the Soviet power. That is why the U.S. let the Soviets know that they would not support such an action. If the U.S. had said yes, the Soviet Union might have used military force against the Chinese military installations. China knew that, and even had told the Soviets that if attacked they would respond in kind. Mongolia would have suffered a lot, if that would have happened. That was a wakeup call for us. Hence in 1992, when the Russian troops were leaving the country, Mongolia declared its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Russia, China, Britain, France and the US (i.e. the P5) welcomed our policy. Since then my country has been working hard to turn that policy into a reality and obtain an appropriate security assurance from these „As a small country we supported you. The Austrians were also helpful to us.“in Kasachstan präsent.“ JARGALSAIKHAN ENKHSAIKHAN nuclear-weapon states. That assurance could be in the form of their pledge to respect Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free zone status and abstain from any action that might lead to its violation. Why is it taking so long to get such assurances? That question should be addressed to the P5. They agreed and declared that Mongolia was a unique case. Nevertheless there is still some hesitancy to set a precedent for others. I believe that there is some inconsistency in their position. I had the opportunity to explain our reasoning for the special status and their somewhat contradictory policy in my recent interview given in May to the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP). But on the other hand Mongolia is working on a peaceful use of nuclear power... This is the socio-economic aspect of the issue. Over ninety percent of our energy is imported from Russia. It takes away a lot from our export earnings. Renewable energy is the energy of the future. At present we are still burning coal as our domestic source of energy and that will continue. However, bearing in mind our uranium reserves, we are thinking to gradually build a nuclear power plant as an additional source of energy that would bring down our excess dependence on import of oil. But that is going to be a long process. We are working on that. Our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1963. Austria is the second western country to have recognized Mongolia’s independence after the United Kingdom. What are the reasons for these good bilateral relations? With Austria we have some similarities. Both are small countries that have a rich history and glorious past. Both were empires. But more importantly, during the Cold War, Austria was sandwiched between the Eastern and the Western blocs. You knew the problems and the challenges of the ideological differences and block politics. Likewise, Mongolia was also sandwiched between two big communist rivals. For us it was also a question of surviving and adjusting to the prevailing situation. Austria pursued the policy of neutrality that served not only your own interests but also that of the region. We were not allowed to be neutral. The logic was that if you are not with me then you are against me. So we were looking up to you as a country that was trying to skilfully promote its interests and that of the region as a whole. As a small country we supported you. The Austrians were also helpful to us. As you have pointed out rightly, it was one of the first western countries to recognize Mongolia and establish formal diplomatic relations with us. Minister Willibald Pahr was the first foreign minister from a western country to visit Mongolia, for which we have always been grateful. Now we are very good personal friends. He is accessible and very well informed. Who were the pioneers of the Austro- Mongolian relations? The initiative to establish diplomatic relations came from both sides. On the Mongolian side, former Mongolian Foreign Minister Mangalyn Dugersuren was very supportive. He and Minister Pahr used to meet in New York during the UN General Assembly session and discuss not only global issues but also how to

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