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SOCIETY Magazin 358

„We even have ‘Oktoberfest’ where some people even wear ‘Dirndl’. You’d be surprised to see that.“ JARGALSAIKHAN ENKHSAIKHAN promote bilateral relations. New York was and still is a good and convenient place for small countries to meet and promote bilateral relations. What do people in Mongolia know about Austria? Of course they know about the Austro-Hungarian Empire – we are fascinated with empires (laughs). But it is mainly the shrewd neutrality policy, its music, the waltz and the culture in general. You might be surprised to know that we have annual waltz festivals in December. It is quite popular. Some dress up like Austrians. Sometimes it is broadcast live on TV. During the broadcast people are told about the origin of waltz, about Austrian composers, musicians, artists, etc. We also have “Austria Days”, usually in spring. Over one percent of our population speaks German. We even have “Oktoberfest” where some people even wear “Dirndl”. You’d be surprised to see that! We shall try to bring pieces of Mongolian history and culture to Vienna this coming November. How are the relations with Austria and Europe? Mindful of our geographical distance, I would say that have very good relations and want to develop them further. That is one of the reasons why Mongolia opened its Embassy in Vienna. Now we want to go well beyond political rela- tions to more economic cooperation and wider people-to-people relations. We have over thirty embassies and consulates in the world, many of them in Europe. How would you characterize the people, the culture and the landscape of Mongolia? We have a small population and a large territory. Therefore, people are very individualistic; they have a tendency to rely to themselves. If you are alone in a countryside and, let us say, your car breaks down, you will find yourself on your own and would have to depend on your own skills and knowledge. On the other hand, since the countryside is so sparsely populated, people are happy to meet other people. They are very hospitable. It has long been the tradition not to have locks on the gher door. In the past, gher doors were not made of wood but of felt. Nomads by nature are very practical people. They do not usually carry many things when they move from one place to another. Located between two large peoples with rich cultures and distinct religions, Mongolia is interested in preserving and strengthening its unique identity, its nomadic culture and tradition. At the same time we want to reach out to other cultures and not only to those of our immediate neighbours. As I have mentioned, we are quite familiar with European culture and are interested in broadening our cultural relations with Austria and other European peoples. Do Mongolians have a special sense of humour? We have a lot of humour. If one reads Mongolian press or watches television, he or she can clearly see that. Like in all other countries of the former Soviet bloc, humour was a way of expressing protest against the state of affairs, against unlimited power of the authorities. Now we try to make things more interesting with humour and point out our mistakes and weaknesses. Humour is still a powerful tool in combating indirectly corruption and injustice. What is the situation of women in Mongolia like? Most of the women are working. That is connected with the place that women occupies in the society. Also life is not so easy and thus women do their share to generate or contribute to family income. As to the gender equality, compared to many other societies and cultures, we have no problem. We have a tradition and now even law that gives women a lot of rights. SOCIETY 2_11 | 19

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