THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA, PUBLIC RELATIONS & COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION

www.president.mn

2016-09-23




LECTURE BY THE PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA



Excellencies,
Esteemed Professors,
Dear Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m really thrilled to be here in this wonderful city and to meet with you. I dreamed to visit this city. I passed through this city many times, from Boston to Washington. I thought one day I will visit this city. This is the birthplace of American liberty and independence. And I’m a fighter for liberty. This is really great value for us. Now, I would like to talk about my country. I will put my speech in three parts. The first part is our history. The Mongolian statehood accounted 2225 years. This year Mongolians celebrated 2225 years of establishment of the Mongolian statehood.

As you can see from this map this is the territory of Mongol Empire about 800 years ago. The Mongol Empire was ruled under the written law ‘Great Order’. Why Mongolians were successful? Because we respected religious belief, culture and free trade of movement. Taking this opportunity I would like to mention that today is the birthday of Khubilai Khaan. This great Khaan was born 801 year ago. Khubilai Khaan reigned today’s Beijing and established Yuan Dynasty. During his reign, the paper money was invented. Also, pony Express messenger system in the West which existed for seven centuries was invented. Mongolians remained in the Middle East for two centuries. When I visited Tehran, the capital of Iran, in 2012, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Hosseini Khamenei shook my hand and said “We are very grateful for Mongolia. Because, Mongolian Khaans decreed to make Shia as a state religion. They also built observatory which remains until now. Mongolians first established university, hospital for mentally ill people and library in Iran”.

Mongolians had the biggest navy during the Empire. They tried to invade Japan twice from South Korean Jeju. Mongolians thought that there is no land and sent fifteen thousand ships each had 60-80 sailors. But they encountered the hurricane. Japanese called it Kamikaze or Divine wind. But Mongolians called it bad weather.

Eventually after 300-400 years the Mongol Empire disintegrated. In the beginning of 20th century Mongolia regained its independence and freedom. In 1920s, Mongolia became the second communist country in the world and the communism remained for 70 years.

I’m the youngest of eight sons. For generations, my family lived as nomadic herdsmen in the western highlands of my country. My father was one of Mongolia's hundred thousand socialist nomadic herdsmen. He was a worker of the socialist collective. He tended hundred sheep, which all were the state property. During that time, a man had no rights, instructions came from above. If he wanted to slaughter one sheep for food, he had to get permission. The same permission was needed to travel to other provinces.

In 1930s, my father went to the army. He had to serve far from his home and loved ones. It was very turbulent time. My mother used to say that she waited for a single letter from your father for five years. My father had neither the time nor a luxury to write a letters and messages that we have today. Yet, he spent his little free time to learn to write. At last, he managed to write that letter. My mother cherished this letter so much. All these happened just two generations ago. Today we live in a totally different world.

My mother and father never dreamt that, one day, their youngest son would speak from this respected podium of birthplace of American liberty and independence. I am really thankful for my parent and the free choice of my fellow citizens.
But this is not about me. I’m here to speak for my people and about my country.

I’m proud of my motherland, Mongolia. I am proud of our history, our culture, our traditions, and the natural beauty that surrounds us. But most of all, I am proud of our spirit and our values.
The brief story of my country’s modern history and our journey to democracy will sound familiar to many of you. In the early 1920s, Mongolia came under communist rule, which I mentioned above. The both foreign and domestic agents of the communist experiment committed horrific brutality on our soil.

During the Stalinist purges one out of every six adult men was killed. Mongolia family clans, their long cherished heritage, and their descendants were systematically exterminated. More than 700 Buddhist temples were burnt to ash.

The communists targeted the very spirit of our nation. But they were not destined to win, not destined to last forever. In the end, our will to live free prevailed.

After many years, our defining moment finally arrived. On the cold morning of December 10th, 1989, we organized the first unauthorized public street meeting in our capital city Ulaanbaatar.

I was fortunate enough to be chosen by my fellow democracy fighters to moderate that historic event. With the microphone is me. Maybe my friends counted on my humble experience of five years of study in the Lvov, in western Ukraine.
I opened this meeting with these words “We have remained silent for a long time. This is our time to work. This is the time for reform”.

That morning, we demanded our rights – of freedom of assembly, of speech, of religion and of freedom of press. We demanded to create a multiparty system, conduct democratic elections, and begin market reforms. It was the beginning of my country’s journey to liberty, justice and openness.

The old regime was stubborn. The old mindset was strongly resistant to change.
We organized many meetings, demonstrations and hunger strikes. We tried to eliminate every reason for violence. We always called for compromises, for peaceful solutions.

The winter of 1989 and the 1990 spring were very long in Mongolia. But they gave birth to revolution. Decades of rule without the consent of the governed were swept aside. Individual rights and liberties prevailed.

And since that day a quarter century ago, we have transformed from a dictatorship to a democracy, from being one of the most isolated, closed communist regimes in the world, to one of the most open.
I will speak about some highlights of our revolution.

First, Mongolia’s democratic revolution was totally peaceful.
No single shot was fired. No single window was shattered. No single drop of blood was shed.

Second, since the beginning of the revolution my country conducted simultaneous political, economic, and social reform. Many still believe that doing such reforms at the same time is not an Asian way. But this is now fairytale. We Mongolians broke that old stereotype. We successfully reformed our political, economic and social systems concurrently since 1990 at the very heart of Asia.

Third, our experience shows that there is no need to import any foreign form of development. Just unleash the power of freedom and let the people exercise their rights and opportunities. Then, the miracle happens. We have seen it Mongolia too. Today, we have dynamic market economy. We have a vibrant, plural and creative society. Our per capita GDP has increased more than twenty fold since 1990s.

Our private sector is now producing more than 80 percent of our GDP. Just 26 years ago 99 percent of the GDP was produced by the state enterprise.

I’m really convinced that free people are always creative, learning and progressive. Some people ask question “Why do Mongolians choose democracy?”. It s because Mongolians say, it is better to live by your own choice however bitter it is than to live by others choice, however sweeter it is. It is because a democracy is based on faith in the dignity and worth of every single individual as a human being. It is because a democratic society aims at the highest development of every one of its members. That’s why we chose democracy.

For Mongolia democracy is not simply a question of structures. You cannot be democratic one day and nondemocratic another day. Democracy today cannot be seen apart from Mongolia’s integrity and fame.

It is a state of mind, way of living and essence of action. It is a way of global connection and universal recognition. That’s why we chose democracy.

Some people ask why Mongolians love freedom. We love freedom because we have earned it through hard work. It is because we knew that freedom is our property, our genuine right from the birth. It is because freedom gives the ruling power to the people. People know that the government in a free country cannot be the property of any specific man or family. That’s why we love freedom.

We do believe in power of freedom. The size of our population and economy may be modest. But the freedom loving spirit and our freedom exercising experience make Mongolia big and relevant. We know that even a big house opens with a small key. That’s why we love freedom.

The beauty of freedom is that it is a learning process. It is the healing system of human society. We can make mistakes. But it will not cost our lives as in dictatorship. That’s why we love freedom.

Thank you very much.