Mongolia, a 'Link of Stability' Between Central Asia and Northeast Asia

Date: 09-30-2005

HONOLULU (Sept. 30) -- With its strategic location, democratic system of government and historical and cultural ties, Mongolia can play a constructive role as “a link of stability between Central Asia and Northeast Asia,” said President Nambaryn Enkhbayar in an address at the East-West Center in mid-September.

“Mongolia is in a position to work with Central Asian and Northeast Asian countries not only bilaterally but also within the multilateral framework,” he said, because of good relations with countries in both regions.

Enkhbayar spoke at a public program at the East-West Center in Hawai‘i , after participating in the United Nations World Summit, which was attended by more than 150 heads of state and government, in New York.

In his speech at the Center, Enkhbayar said Mongolia’s transformation since 1990 from an authoritarian regime to a democratic system and its political and economic reforms can be a “positive model” for countries in the regions. Citing the “clear-cut strategic significance” of his country, the president also discussed the geo-political importance of close collaboration between Mongolia and the United States.

“Mongolia joined the global coalition against terrorism without any reservation and committed itself to the global fight against terrorism,” he said. “Since then we have been working closely with the U.S. administration in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In July 2004, the two nations agreed in a joint declaration that “a democratic, secure and prosperous Mongolia, that promotes friendly relations with its neighbors and is an active participant in regional and international economic, political and security forums, is essential to ensuring peace and stability in Asia.”

“The example of Afghanistan clearly shows that small countries should not be underestimated or ignored and that problems of small countries if not timely addressed may become a source of international tension and concern,” he said. “Further stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan constitutes an important and integral part of the overall security situation” in the region of Central Asia.

With respect to Northeast Asia, he said the agreement recently reached at the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear arms program was “a first step forward.”

“However, we should remember that this hard-earned agreement is but a step in a long path lying ahead of us and the main job is yet to be done,” he said.

Enkhbayar noted that some scholars have suggested that the six-party talks may produce “a broader regional mechanism.” He said such a development would be welcome. “We believe that success in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue would pave the way for turning the six-party talks into a multilateral security dialogue mechanism, encompassing all the countries of the region, including Mongolia,” he said.

The president also sees possibilities for Northeast Asian cooperation in the energy sector, in improving the energy supply and enhancing energy security in the region. Because Mongolia attaches great importance to promoting regional cooperation in the energy sector, it will host an intergovernmental meeting on the issue in November, he said.

“We expect that the establishment of such a mechanism would enable the countries of the region to implement multilateral projects that could increase cross-border energy trade among the countries of Northeast Asia,” he said.

This is an East-West Wire, copyright East-West Center