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SOCIETY Magazin 358

ence, investment and transfer of technology, because we are still at a very early stage of our development. Under the old, socialist system, people were expected to act almost like robots; they were ordered or told to produce something or provide some specific services. There was almost no personal incentive; plans were set that were expected to be fulfilled. Nothing more and nothing less. Now people can think and work creatively, actively work to improve their life. The world is changing constantly. Our co-operation with other countries should not be a one-way street; with the help of technology and creative thinking we want to add value to our products and export what others need. After the collapse of the USSR, Mongolia was “thrown in at the deep end”, so to say. Mongolia has decided to take its course to democracy and free market economy. Nearly twenty years after the “Wende”, what is the situation like in Mongolia? The minds of the people have changed; so has the system. We have regular parliamentary and presidential elections. Every member of parliament has to work with its constituency. If he or she does not represent well the constituency, then someone else would be elected. Our economy is improving, production has increased manyfold, we now export much more. Before, Mongolia was part of a larger socialist planned economy. Prices for our natural resources were very low. The Soviets in fact used to determine what was expected from us. Now we draw up our own plans based on what is good and profitable for us. Now we can negotiate the conditions of cooperation. Many observers say that Mongolia is one of the best developed democracies of the former Soviet bloc. What do you say about that? I tend to agree. Many countries recognized that Mongolia has succeeded in promoting and consolidating its democracy and democratic institutions. It had developed a good, if not a perfect, political system. Though our population is only 2.7 million, we have over eight thousand registered NGOs that work in almost every sphere of human activity. As I said, we hold regularly fair elections. There are over a dozen different political parties. To some extent we are inspired by the Austrian and European political models. When we were drafting our new post-communist Constitution in early 1990s, we were inspired by the spirit of Austrian and other European constitutions. Did you get help from other countries in developing a new political system? In early 1990’s we had good cooperation with the United Nations, with Austrian and other western lawmakers that were very useful and helpful to us. There were exchanges of legal delegations with Austria. President Fischer, when he was Chairman of the Austrian Parliament, visited the country to promote bilateral relations. Mongolia has recently taken over the chairmanship of the “Community of Democracies”. What are your plans? The “Community of Democracies” (CoD) is an important organization and we are honoured to be leading it for two years. One of our programs for the CoD is to raise awareness of the importance of NGOs and of the civil society in general, and promote the empowerment of people, because governments cannot be expected to look after everything or act for everyone. On the other hand, the government needs a strong, independent „We believe we can serve as a bridge between Europe and Asia.“in Kasachstan präsent.“ JARGALSAIKHAN ENKHSAIKHAN and constructive opposition that could be helpful to indicate whether its policy is right or wrong, where it needs correction, and where support. Democracy education will also be one of our priorities. What do you think will the Arab revolution bring – more democracy? It is raising many hopes that life will change and people will have more freedom to speak out and be part of an active and inclusive society. But much will depend on what happens on the ground. The main causes for the revolutions we are witnessing are connected primarily with poverty, injustice and corruption. It is an objective process since human beings want to be free and realize their dreams. Democracy will come when people will realize what it is all about and why it would benefit them. Democracy is not just about fair elections; it is also about what happens between elections; it is also finding a right balance between freedom and responsibility, as we found out. Economically, Mongolia has a long way to go. What does Mongolia expect from its economic development? Yes, the economy is very important and indeed there is still a long way to go. However, on the brighter side, we are situated between two large emerging markets. In the immediate vicinity of Mongolia there are at least forty million people in the southern part of Siberia and northern China. These areas are not well developed. We believe that we can attract foreign economic interests to provide goods and services for these areas. You have the technology and experience; we have young workforce, natural resources and a railroad that links Mongolia to these two markets. We are not asking you to invest huge amounts in Mongolia but to work with us to service these markets. What can Mongolia offer? Which products? Our main products are livestock products, namely meat products, cashmere, wool – the best cashmere is from Mongolia – leather and hide products. Annually Mongolia can export products of almost ten million heads of livestock. Second, we are rich in mineral resources. We have one of the largest copper, molybdenum, gold and coal mines. It also has uranium, rare earth elements and other strategically important minerals. China is rich and strong, it can buy up whatever we produce. However, we don’t want to export only to China. We want to add value to our products and export to other countries and share the profit. There is plenty to go around. Thirdly, we believe we can serve as a bridge between Europe and Asia. The shortest land route connection is via railroad, through Mongolia. We can try to work with the “third neighbour” European Union in this respect. We have already initialled with the European Union a partnership and cooperation agreement and are working to introduce European standards, be it in education, healthcare, human rights or other spheres of life. Mongolia has severe environmental problems: desertification, air pollution. What is Mongolia doing against these dangers? The desertification is, unfortunately, underway. It is connected with the climate change and partially with human activity. The climate is becoming drier in SOCIETY 2_11 | 17

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