Delegation of the European Union to Central African Republic

MONGOLIA – Weekly press review 10 May 2021

10/05/2021 - 08:24
Mongolia – Weekly press review

This information is based on media reports found in the open sources/via subscription, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. You can subscribe or unsubscribe through the form available on our website https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/mongolia_en

 

COVID-19

As of 10 May, total number of confirmed cases reached 45 459, the total number of recovered patients was 32 660 and total number of COVID-19 related deaths was 170. Ikon (In MNG).  COVID-19 interactive dashboard is available in Mongolian and English.

Vaccination: As of 9 May, 1 590 636 people have received the first dose of the vaccine and 622 740 people received the second dose. Ikon (In MNG)

Government decided to downgrade the country’s coronavirus emergency regime level of current Red Level down to Orange Level starting from 8 May  until 5 June. During this period, 18 types of businesses will remain closed, including restaurants, coffee shops, commodity markets, shopping malls, and hotels. Montsame

Mongolia sees gradual decline in daily COVID-19 cases. Montsame

Mongolia postpones re-opening of air border until early June. Xinhua

Cabinet extends closure of road and railroad checkpoints to passenger movement till 31 May. Montsame

 

EU - Mongolia 

Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered remarks at webinar on defending democracy from disinformation: The Friends in Defence of Democracy in collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), organized the “Defending Democracy from Disinformation” webinar. Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered remarks and pointed out that disinformation was becoming a harder problem in Mongolia in the current situation under the COVID-19 pandemic.  Montsame

This year marks 30th anniversary of Mongolian-Estonian diplomatic ties: The two sides have exchanged views on measures and policies to combat the global pandemic. The parties agreed that it has had the advantage of giving the opportunity to further develop areas in e-governance. Montsame

Caritas Czech Republic in Mongolia promotes volunteering among Mongolian youth: Young people aged 15-34 comprise Mongolia’s largest demographic and more than one-third of the population. Under the financial support of the European Union and the Canada fund, Caritas Czech Republic, Mongolian Youth Council and Center of Citizenship Education have been working on youth development and empowerment in Mongolia. Within the framework of the “All for YOUth, YOUth for all” project, Mongolian Youth Council revived http://ivolunteer.mn/  platform in order to enhance volunteerism among young people. Caritas Czech Republic

Sustainable Resilient Ecosystem and Agriculture Management in Mongolia: STREAM aims at increasing the capacity of Mongolian communities to implement innovative and sustainable long-term landscape management to address food system challenges and climate stresses. Using the Team Europe approach, the project is co-funded by the European Union under the framework of the EU-funded joint initiative of Global Climate Change Alliance Plus / Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (GCCA+/DeSIRA), and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and will be implemented by GIZ and FAO in cooperation with the Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism. European Commission

EBRD helps rural businesses in Mongolia: Micro and small enterprises in Mongolia, including the ones in remote rural areas, will have more opportunities to withstand the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic and grow their business thanks to the latest agreement between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the local lender Transcapital NBFI. EBRD

Salkhit Windfarm Development: The EBRD is considering making an equity investment of up to USD 5 million in Clean Energy LLC to support the development, construction and operation of a 50MW wind farm to be constructed and operated 70km from Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar. The project will be the first renewable energy project and the first privately-owned generator connecting to the Central Grid in Mongolia. EBRD

Training on professional animal slaughtering and zero-defect hides and skins flaying technology held: With aim to support the Bayankhongor province with value added livestock raw materials and commodities manufacturing including meat and leather, and market linkages, under the EU funded SECiM project, UNIDO is upscaling its intervention with “Animal slaughtering and zero-defect hides and skins flaying technology” training. Montsame

Meet the #EDD21 Young Leaders: The European Commission has invited young people from around the world to play an active role in this year’s European Development Days dedicated this year to green economy and biodiversity. One of the 17 Young Leaders chosen out of 202 applicants is from Mongolia. Ms Nandin-Erdene Enkhtuvshin works as a Project and Partnership Manager at the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Association. She is convinced that finance can play a key role in allocating investment to sustainable companies and projects and thus accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy. EDD

Two helicopters brought from France: As part of the project on the establishment of Air Rescue Unit at the National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia and supply of helicopters, two EC-145 helicopters for emergency medical services and search-and-rescue operations were brought into the country through the Zamyn-Uud border checkpoint. Montsame

Announcement: Deadline extension for Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters. The new date is 17 June 17:00 CET. Click here for more info.

Political and Internal Developments    

Democratic Party Members of Parliament announced hunger strike in central square: The split Democratic Party (DP) has submitted two presidential candidates to the General Election Commission (GEC),  former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament Altankhuyag Norov and former Chairperson of the DP and former MP Erdene Sodnomzundui. The GEC has accepted materials from S.Erdene. N.Altankhuyag along with other members of the Parliament of the DP has announced a hunger strike, demanding the GEC to accept his candidature and urging the incumbent Mongolian People’s Party to stop manipulating the judiciary and other governmental agencies. Ikon (In MNG)

National Human Rights Commission demanded the government to provide essential necessities to the protestors: NHRCM sent a letter asking to pay a special attention to protect lives of the Members on Parliament who are on hunger strike under harsh weather conditions.  The commission demanded to provide clothing, blankets, toilets and hot water. Ikon (In MNG)

President vetoed amendments to the Law on Presidential Election: In his letter to Speaker of the Parliament, the President stated that “the Mongolian People’s Party is consistently seeking to seize state power through unconstitutional means by manipulating the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the General Election Commission and the General Authority of State Registration.” Ikon (In MNG)

President proposed to postpone the upcoming presidential election: President Battulga called the National Security Council to discuss about the recent political developments in connection with the upcoming presidential election. Prime Minister opposed the president’s proposal. Ikon (In MNG)

The Parliament did not accept the conclusion of the Constitutional Court: The court ruled that the appointment of non-judicial members of the Judicial General Council and Judicial Disciplinary Committee by the Parliament is unconstitutional. The majority of legislators objected the court’s conclusion. The Constitutional Court will make the final decision during its plenary session. Ikon (In MNG)

USD 1.4 million confiscated in corruption case: Mongolian Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) seized USD 1.4 million in the course of an investigation of the corruption case involving “Salkhit Silver Mine”. Mining license holder company which had 100% Chinese investment found guilty of violating several Mongolian laws including evasion of tax, misrepresenting, engaging in corruption. The Chinese management of the company disputed over investment which resulted in attempting to bribe judiciary and law enforcement authorities. IAAC

Foreign Policy

North Korea to send more workers to Mongolia: These moves suggest that North Korea is expanding its efforts to raise funds following a shortage of foreign currency due to difficulties caused by COVID-19 and continuing international sanctions on the country. Daily NK

U.S. Senators sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State expressing their concern about recent political developments in Mongolia: “Recent controversial actions taken by the parliament, the judiciary, and the president – including the hasty passage of an amendment to the Presidential Election Law that barred the incumbent from seeking re-election, the removal of a Constitutional Court judge seen as likely to challenge the constitutionality of the parliament’s action, and the president’s emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to disband the ruling party –  have sparked a political crisis that could undermine the credibility of the presidential election on 9 June. We are concerned that this chain of events could make Mongolia increasingly vulnerable to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to undermine Mongolia’s democracy, rule of law, and its judicial system through corruption of and collusion with certain Mongolian leaders.” Marco Rubio Senator

Economy

Mongolia's unemployment rate reaches 7.6%: Since the start of the pandemic, Mongolia has imposed strict lockdowns five times. In Q4 2020, the unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points from the previous quarter to 7.6%. Bloomberg (In MNG)

Foreign Direct Investment in March reached USD 314.8 million, up 54% from a year earlier.

In the first three months of 2021, USD 514.6 million in FDI was invested. In 2020, when the pandemic began, foreign direct investment reached USD 1.6 billion, several times lower than 2011-2012 FDI. The Bank of Mongolia estimates that about USD 1.4 billion in direct investment will come in this year. The balance of payments showed a surplus of USD 163.4 million in March, demonstrating good economic condition. Bloomberg (In MNG)

Tavan Tolgoi JSC to distribute dividends: The company has decided to distribute dividends of MNT 535 (EUR 0.15) per share to its shareholders, increasing the previous disbursement decision of MNT 357 (EUR 0.10) per share. Around MNT 28.1 billion (EUR 8.11 million) in net profits will be distributed to shareholders. News (In MNG)

Erdenet Mining Corporation to establish a metallurgy-chemical plant complex: Erdenet Mining Corporation will be establishing a factory for smelting and processing copper concentrate, processing oxidized ore, and manufacturing sulfuric acid and emulsion explosion as well as repairs and mechanical processes with financing of MNT 1.8 trillion (EUR 519.4 million). Montsame

Oyu Tolgoi LLC releases its 2020 Year in Review. Oyu Tolgoi

Commentary

Mongolia threatens to cancel Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement unless tax claim is dismissed: Oyu Tolgoi in February last year instituted international tax arbitration proceedings against Mongolia and the government has now filed its statement of defence together with a counterclaim. Although it is not a party to that arbitration, Turquoise Hill said that it understood that the defence and counterclaim included a request that the arbitral tribunal add both the company and a member of the Rio Tinto Group as parties to the arbitration. The counterclaim also reportedly made assertions surrounding allegations of historical improper payments to government officials and seeks unquantified damages. Turquoise Hill said it would oppose the request that it be added to the tax arbitration and that it would defend itself against the counterclaim. Mining Weekly Mining

Presidential Election Candidates: Initial Outlook by Julian Dierkes: I think that this election will turn entirely on how strong the desire among voters is to elect a non-Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) candidate for balance, and how that dynamic will play out in a three-way race. We only need to turn to the 2017 election as an example of the desire of Mongolian voters to see some balance in the highest offices. First prediction: Khurelsukh will win a plurality, but not a majority of votes in the first round, thus forcing a run-off. The MPP can count on its rural and committed voter base to give Khurelsukh a lot of votes, but if anything, it seems like trepidation about the dominance of one party has grown since 2017, so it seems like a majority is unlikely. This is odd, in some ways, of course, as the electorate certainly endorsed the MPP and then-Prime Minister Khurelsukh in the 2020 parliamentary election. Mongolia Focus

An Election with Handpicked Candidates? While it is easy to dismiss all of this as internal problems of the notoriously quarrelling Democratic Party (DP), it poses more serious questions regarding the vulnerability of the Mongolian electoral process. Keeping in mind that the initial re-issuance of a stamp to Erdene by the central registration authority seems to have been illegitimate, there was no way for the DP to avoid this situation. Submitting the country’s largest opposition party to endless court battles following a seemingly faulty decision by the central registration authority that ends in not registering their elected candidate for the formally highest position in the state has uncomfortable connotations. Mistakes can happen in any bureaucracy. In Mongolia, Khurelsukh seems always to profit politically from them though. This seems especially convenient now as his own image is damaged in public opinion. Following his resignation as prime minister using a minor protest as an excuse, many distrust his ability to lead the country through difficult times. Restricting the major opposition party of the country twice in the attempt to choose a presidential candidate and forcing a weakened and ostracized candidate on them seems more than timely. Khurelsukh will certainly enjoy an unusually easy campaign start this month. Mongolia Focus

Corruption prevention activity has saved over USD 10 million: People are more interested in corruption investigation rather than prevention activities, probably due to the strong social attitude that it is more important to punish corrupt authorities directly. However, prevention of corruption is much more important than investigating committed crimes. Various regulations are adopted by relevant government authorities and are domestically followed. Nevertheless, certain regulations violate the Rule of law and resolve issues that are not specified in the law. One of the primary functions in corruption prevention is to review these regulations to discover if there is a bureaucracy, unnecessary steps in providing civil service that may cause corruption. Furthermore, proposing to repeal the regulation that may lead to corruption crimes. IAAC

Assessment on Mongolian corruption perceptions index: Mongolia needs to approve the law on political parties, the law on the state-owned industries, and the whistle-blower protection Act, which disclose corruption actions and the law on mining transparency, and solve issues to create a legal framework for the disclosure of end-user and beneficiary information, and ensure that the buying process is free of corruption. there were a few positive indicators related to Mongolia’s CPI. Democracy and competitiveness increased by 1-2 scores. In this, the following indicators have been of influence, for instance, Mongolia is removed from the FATF Grey list and credit ratings have improved. IAAC

Quality of life simply put: Realistically assessing the living standards of its population and making policies or decisions which promote consistent improvement is of utmost priority in any democratic country. How does Mongolia assess the standards of living for its population? How clear or concrete is the methodology for individuals or policymakers? Can it serve as a vital tool for their work? Wouldn’t it be more efficacious if the statistical approach is simple and easy to understand and use? “The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition persists from birth to death” - Adam Smith. Economic theory dictates that an individual seeks to maximize their consumption, whereas nobody uses others’ money as carefully as they would use their own. Since state funds belong to the taxpayers, not individuals, the citizens have the right to monitor spending and demand efficiency. Jargal DeFacto

Double plague and immunity: A month and a half have passed since the government’s complex plan of dedicating MNT 10 trillion (EUR 2.88 billion) to protect citizens’ health and recover the economy was approved. Mongolia continues to fight the coronavirus in its health sector and the plague of corruption in its economy. Perhaps, the former will be stopped this upcoming summer. Meanwhile, there’s a need to discuss and contemplate when and how to stop the latter’s spread. We have to take some measures. As corruption is flourishing in all corners of the state, justice is vanishing. As justice vanishes, opportunities for individuals to work and earn a living and for companies to compete fairly disappear. Unemployment rises, businesses close, and social unrest increases. Alcoholism and depression are rampant in society, and the way people attack, insult, and use derogatory terms on each other is far from humane. Reforms in the judiciary and making it independent from political influence are needed urgently as well as enforcing transparency in political party funding and a complete crackdown on electoral fraud using blockchain technology. Jargal DeFacto

How Mongolia made the most of vaccine diplomacy: Mongolia is ranking high in the global effort to vaccinate populations against COVID-19. Mongolia’s multi-pillar foreign policy translated into extremely valuable vaccination diplomacy during a challenging time. Mongolia’s far-sighted 2011 Foreign Policy Concept calls for a multi-pillar foreign policy approach, and it paid off handsomely in the country’s vaccination diplomacy efforts. Despite its landlocked position, Mongolia managed to utilize its strategic partnerships to receive vaccinations from multiple sources. Mongolia’s strategic partnerships with its neighbours, Russia and China, allowed Mongolia to receive vaccines more quickly compared to other developing countries, many of which are dealing with significant delays. But while Mongolia has received neighbourly support from both Russia and China, Mongolia’s “third neighbours” weren’t sitting idle either. The global pandemic highlighted the significance of a country’s foreign policy and what can be achieved through strategic foreign policy endeavours and diplomacy. Mongolia, often categorized as a small state due to its 3.2 million population, cannot afford to deal with more deaths. Mongolia is successfully leveraging its long-standing foreign policy pillars to make the most of vaccine diplomacy. The Diplomat

People with disabilities are more prone to corruption, IAAC survey finds: People with disabilities were more likely to face corruption in the health, education, and social services sector. They also face corruption in the police, the judiciary, and the land administration authority. The percentage of people who think that corruption is the solution to their problems has increased. It can be concluded that public officials do not feel empathy towards people with disabilities. It is clear from the survey result that people who have learned to take bribes put pressure on people with disabilities, directly and indirectly, demand bribes, and solve their problems accordingly. Montsame

 

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Prepared by Geser Ganbaatar

Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia

ICC Tower, 9th floor, Jamiyan Gun Street 9

1st khoroo, Sukhbaatar district, Ulaanbaatar

https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/mongolia_en