Speech of visiting Canadian Governor General David Johnston given in the Mongolian parliament today

Address to the State Great Khural (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Friday, October 25, 2013
Thank you for your warm welcome.
It is truly a great honour to be invited to address the State Great Khural, and to be the first governor general of Canada to undertake a State visit to Mongolia.
My wife, Sharon, and I arrived late last night, and already we are getting a sense of the magnificent hospitality of Mongolians. We are delighted to be here.
Let me begin by offering greetings and best wishes on behalf of all Canadians.
As you know, this year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Mongolia for being such good friends and partners of Canada.
This year also marks another milestone—one of shorter duration, perhaps, but of no less significance to our present and future ties: the 5th anniversary of the resident Canadian Embassy here in Ulaanbaatar.
Canadians and Mongolians may be separated by geography, but we are united by bonds of shared experience capable of transcending great distances. Let me underline all that we have in common.
We are alike in our affection for our distinct and proud histories and cultures. 
We are alike in our sense of being custodians of vast, challenging and beautiful lands.
We are alike in our reverence for democracy, for human dignity and rights, as well as for the rule of law.
While our relationship has in recent times been centred on commerce, particularly resource development, today it embraces a diverse—and growing—array of shared activities and interests. 
I am pleased by this growth. It signals to me that our relationship is evolving into the kind of truly sophisticated, rich partnership that our two peoples deserve, and that is needed to meet the challenges of a complex and changing world—where we work for peace, security and good governance.
Today, Canadians and Mongolians are expanding our ties and learning about each other in new and exciting ways.
For example, Canadians from all walks of life have witnessed with hope and admiration the evolution of Mongolia’s democratic practice. And, as an expression of our commitment to a long-term partnership with Mongolia, we have done more than just observe—we have actively invested, together with Mongolians at all levels of society, in the effort to strengthen this country’s democratic governance. 
We are working together for improvements in public service management, better policing practice, legal and judicial reform, and enhanced local government capacity.
We are also working to develop the administrative and legislative strengths of this critical institution, the State Great Khural.
Canada is partnering with Mongolia in these endeavours because we believe that building strong, transparent and efficient judicial, public service and legislative institutions is both the “smart” thing to do and the “right” thing to do.
It is right and smart because we believe that good governance reinforces democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  
It is right and smart because we believe that well-functioning institutions are also the foundation stones for the economic development to which Mongolia’s citizens overwhelmingly aspire.  In this regard, permit me to underline my own sense of the indispensible role of this Khural, and you as legislators, to that goal.  Your work has direct, lasting impact on the trajectory of Mongolia’s development.  The laws created here either promote a predictable, supportive environment for business and the  economic betterment of your great nation and its citizens, or do not.
I am therefore pleased to learn that Canada and Mongolia are examining possible longer-term support to develop a more professional, non-partisan, accountable, transparent and citizen-centred Mongolian public service.
And I am additionally pleased by the strengthening level of commercial exchanges between our two countries.
We have great potential to expand and diversify our economic ties for mutual benefit. I understand that education and building technologies are two specific areas where there is potential for further growth.
On the international stage, we are joint members of no fewer than 35 international organizations. Canada has been a strong and consistent supporter of Mongolia’s successful efforts to join such fora as the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe. We are also partners in NATO and the Community of Democracies.
On that note, I would like to congratulate Mongolia on the completion of its term as chair of the Community of Democracies, and most especially for the advancements in protecting and enabling civil society that were made under Mongolia’s leadership.
This objective is one Canada also holds dear; Canada is proud to chair the Community’s Working Group on Civil Society. In particular, I would like to highlight the joint efforts of Canada and Mongolia to develop a “curriculum for democracy education,” which I understand will be deployed in Mongolia’s school systems as well as in a number of other Community member states.
Canadians understand that we derive great benefit from engagement with the wider world. 
We also know that, with that engagement, there comes a responsibility to act in the defence of good international governance and peace.
I would therefore like to take a moment to salute the efforts of Mongolia’s servicemen and servicewomen who, in UN-led peacekeeping operations in Sudan and other locations far from their homes and loved ones, are working to secure international peace and stability.
Canada, through its military training programs, is also contributing to the development of Mongolia’s international peacekeeping capacities and efforts. Working together, we believe we can foster regional and global security and help bring about a more fair, just and peaceful world.  
I would like to thank you again for the gracious invitation you have extended to Sharon and me to visit Mongolia. We are looking forward to learning and seeing as much as we can of this fascinating country in the short time we have here.
I began my comments today by noting that we are on the threshold of 40 years of diplomatic recognition—an anniversary we will formally celebrate in November of this year.  In those 40 years, our relationship has grown beyond the bounds of diplomacy into a robust and living friendship—one that exists on many levels and in many spheres of activity. 
In 1973, Mongolia was a different place than the one we know now; in many ways, so is Canada. What matters is how far we have come, together.  
For its part, Mongolia continues to undergo an extraordinary evolution. Whatever challenges you may face, and whatever opportunities arise, Mongolians should know that they have no more committed partner than Canada—today and in the years to come.
Let us therefore continue our work together.
Thank you.
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