Russia mulls Mongolia's accesion to CU free trade zone

MOSCOW, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Moscow and Ulan-Bator have been considering a free trade zone with the participation of Mongolia and the Customs Union (CU), Russian Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev said Friday.
"Alexei Ulyukayev and his Mongolian counterpart Nyamjav Batbayar held a meeting where they have discussed prospective bilateral projects," Russian ministry's press said.
Among the projects, the ministers singled out the building of a modern railway infrastructure, energy facilities, electricity grids and oil pipelines for Mongolian domestic needs and transit to China.
According to Ulyukayev, the two countries look forward to switching to mutual accounting in their national currencies and eventually, Mongolia's joining the CU free trade zone.
The CU currently comprises Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, while Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are waiting to join the economic alliance.
Earlier this week, Ulyukayev said the CU also mulled over an agreement with Hanoi on Vietnam's accession by the end of 2014.

Mongolian president invites Russia’s Putin in Mongolia and proposes to abolish visas

SHANGHAI, May 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday met with his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhiagiin Elbergdorj to discuss issues of cooperation between the two countries, including in the area of transport.
“We have good large-scale joint ventures we have inherited from the past, moreover, we have good prospects for the future,” Putin said, opening the meeting, adding that Russia ranked second among Mongolia’s trade partners.
The Mongolian president, who spoke with Putin in Russian, agreed that the two countries had potential for further cooperation, including in the area of railway transport.
“Mongolia is located between China and Russia and is the shortest way for transit by rail and other transport means,” he said. “We should look at how to use these possibilities.”
Elbergdorj said that a three-party agreement on cooperation in the area of through transportation was being prepared, as was a similar bilateral agreement. Apart from that, Mongolia, he noted, was working on amendments to the 1949 agreement on the establishment of Ulan Bator Railways.
The Mongolian leader also proposed to abolish visa formalities between the two countries. “It’s high time to look at easy-term or visa-free trips for Mongolian citizens to neighbouring countries,” he said.
“Let me invite you to Ulan Bator in August, maybe, in its second half,” he said at a meeting with the Russian leader.

Whirlwind from the steppes: The lessons of the Golden Horde

ay 19, 2014 Alexander Vershinin, special to RBTH
Vassals of the Mongol Empire for more than two centuries, the Russians learned from their conquerors by carefully studying their military tactics, and eventually grew strong enough to use what they had learned to win victory after victory against their former overlords, eventually opening the way to the formation of the Russian state.
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -
The miniature "Prince Dmitry Ivanovich (Donskoy) during the Battle of Kulikovo" from the manuscript chronicle miniature composed in 1540s-1560s during the times of Ivan the Terrible. Source: Rudolf Kucherov / RIA Novosti
Founded by Genghis Khan, the army of the Mongol Empire emerged as one of the most modern military machines in human history. Tight organization, iron discipline, refined tactics and powerful weaponry honed the Mongol nomads into a deadly menace for the peoples of Asia and Europe.
True pioneers of the art of war, the Mongols were besieging fortresses with artillery 100 years ahead of the Europeans. Even in the absence of communication and supply lines they could quickly mobilize and equip large bodies of troops, move thousands of kilometers and attack seemingly out of nowhere. These children of the steppe also deftly mastered the construction of warships, and their fleet came perilously close to conquering Japan in the late 13th century.
Forcing the Chinese Empire to its knees, the Golden Horde stormed through Central Asia to seize the Transcaucasus and ancient Rus, extending its might as far as the Adriatic Sea.
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -

Of all the peoples subjugated by the Mongol hordes, the Russians proved most able to adopt the tactics of the invaders while drawing bitter lessons from their own mistakes and heavy losses in battle.
In 1223, Mongol chieftain Genghis Khan used a feint withdrawal to dupe and obliterate the armies of the Rus princes on the Kalka River in the present-day Donetsk Region of Ukraine. In
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -
 1238, the cavalry of Batu Khan outflanked, surrounded and annihilated Russian forces on the Sit River (in today’s Yaroslavl Region).
And in 1377 the Mongols used their superior reconnaissance abilities to fix their enemy and smash Russian units on the Pyana River (in the Nizhny Novgorod Region).
To resist the Mongol onslaught the Russians had to master the same reconnoitring moves, cavalry fighting tactics and setting of ambushes. And from the 14th century onward the Mongols also began to suffer some defeats as the Muscovite princes turned the tables on them.
At the battle of the River Vozha (in today’s Ryazan Region) in 1378 the army of Dmitry Donskoi adopted a Mongolian arc formation and lured the enemy into a pincer movement before destroying them. Two years later the Mongolian forces suffered their worst ever defeat in the Battle of Kulikovo, beaten again by their own tactics in the form of a concealed ambush.  
But the Mongols did not only teach the Russians to fight. Over the centuries they went on to form distinctive units of the Russian army themselves. The irregular Tatar cavalry embodied the fighting traditions of Genghis Khan’s horsemen and sowed terror among the Tsar’s European enemies.
During the Livonian War in the 16th century, Ivan the Terrible’s commanders won many battles against German, Polish and Swedish forces using rapid raids and cavalry charges and the Tatars’ unique forward and rear-guard actions to grind down the enemy.
In the 18th century Peter the Great famously reorganized the Russian army along European lines but chose not to meddle with the light cavalry, a vital asset born of the military tradition of the East.
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -

The Tatar light horsemen evolved as mounted shock forces which then became a feature of most European armies prior to the 20thcentury. Riders armed with long cavalry lances were invaluable in mounted combat, able to unseat an opponent with the lance at full gallop and finish them off with a sabre.
The Tsar had good cause to admire the nomads’ fighting qualities, and so the first
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -
Russian Lancer regiments were formed from Tatar horsemen from the Black Sea steppe. In the 1709 Battle of Poltava, against the hitherto invincible Swedish army, the Kalmyk cavalry of the Lower Volga repulsed a powerful attack by regular infantry and then counter-attacked to smash the Swedish flank.
The Don Cossacks also adopted and refined Tatar fighting techniques while living side by side with them. Napoleon’s army learned firsthand of the fighting skills of the steppe people during the invasion of Russia in 1812.
Just as the Mongols once used to wear down, lure and surround Russian forces, the Cossacks created a nightmare for the French with their lightning attacks and destruction of supply convoys. Regarding the role this played in his army’s defeat, the French Emperor himself reputedly said, “Had I just 10,000 Cossacks, I would have conquered the whole world.”
Beyond tactics, the physical appearance of the Russian warrior and his weapons also bore a marked resemblance to that of the Mongols until the military reforms of Peter the Great. The first sabres were brought to Russia in the 10th century but only saw widespread use after the Mongol invasion.
It was the perfect weapon for the horseback rider, light and easy to wield and good for backhand blows to both mounted and dismounted enemies. By the 15th century the sabre had almost completely supplanted the traditional sword in Russia.
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -

The bow also became one of the Russian soldier’s most indispensable weapons. Russia was the only European country to widely use the saadak, the mounted archer’s classic armament, consisting of a taut bow held in a sheath and a covered quiver of arrows.
The saadak was not just a weapon and also served as a status symbol in Russia, as it had done in Mongol culture. All Russian tsars before Peter the Great were known to have a specially decorated saadak among their finery.
While once a key transplant from Mongol military practice to the Russian army. The cavalry has now receded in the annals of history. But one Mongol military tradition flourishes to this day in Russia and worldwide: the cry of “Hurrah!” Drawn from the Mongolian root “ur” meaning “hit”, it still echoes down the centuries from the thundering charges of Genghis Khan’s horsemen. Source:Russia Beyond the Headlines

Mongolian kids get their own place to learn

Children of Mongolian migrant workers in Korea study in class at the International Mongolia School in southeastern Seoul. The school was founded by a Korean pastor and his wife who worried about the lack of public education access for migrant workers’ children in Korea. By Park Sang-moon
The students, neatly turned out in sky-blue uniforms, chant from their textbooks. A typical classroom scene in Korea - except that the classroom is located in a former small apartment building. Some students in higher grades learn inside shipping containers next to the school. There are no playgrounds. 

This is a school for children of migrant workers from Mongolia. Located in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, the International Mongolia School is the first and only Mongolian school accredited by both the Korean and Mongolian governments. It offers primary and secondary education in grades one through nine for 85 Mongolian kids. 

Its curriculum is the same as for a school in Mongolia, and classes are taught in Mongolian, although students also take Korean-language classes seven times a week. 

Ochki, a 14-year-old boy, is one of the school’s 85 students. He arrived in Korea with his family eight years ago. His father works in a factory. His mother works as a math teacher at his school. 

Mongolian students learn taekwondo during their physical education class. By Park Sang-moon
“There was no trouble adapting to the curriculum here because the courses are taught in Mongolian,” he tells a visiting reporter in impressively fluent Korean. 

When asked whether learning Korean was a challenge, he replies, “Ever since I went to kindergarten, I’ve been learning Korean, and that has gone on through primary school. So it’s not hard for me.”

Lee Gang-ae, the school’s principal, emphasizes that teaching Korean is part of her efforts to encourage the children to learn more about their host country.

“They need to learn the culture and society of the country where they currently live,” Lee says, “and learning Korean is the basic step for that. 

“Speaking Korean can be a great asset to each student and it can also have positive effects on Korea in the future. Even if the kids’ stays here are temporary, they will carry the experience with them wherever they live in the future.”

The school was founded by Lee and Pastor Yoo Hae-guen, a married couple that has long supported migrant workers from different countries. 

“Unlike other migrant workers, Mongolian parents almost always take their children wherever they go,” says Lee. “In Mongolia, it’s important for families to stay together, which I believe is related to their nomadic roots.” 

A steady stream of migrants have left harsh conditions or limited opportunities in Mongolia to seek better jobs in Korea. The number of Mongolians living in Korea stood at 24,175 last year, a significant number considering that Mongolia’s entire population is 2.9 million, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2006, the number of Mongolians living in Korea was 15,237, according to Statistics Korea.

Korea is one of the biggest destinations for Mongolian migrant workers in the world.

With the constant influx, Mongolians have created a so-called Mongol Town in Dongdaemun where they run restaurants and grocery stores along with other businesses for their compatriots. 

But for Lee and Yoo, the increasing number of Mongolian migrant workers meant there were more children without access to education or other public services, and that prompted the couple to start the charity to educate young Mongolians. 

The school’s origin dates back to 1992, when the couple offered free meals and language education to foreign workers from different countries, including China and Indonesia, in a mission center.

"At the time, Mongolian kids spent the whole day in the center because they had nowhere to go after their parents left for work,” Lee recalls. “They had nothing to do and just wandered around with their friends.” 

It was not until the mid-2000s that children of migrant workers were allowed to attend local schools. 

But even if the children are accepted into Korean schools, they often fail to keep up with the local curriculum because it’s too foreign to them.

“That led us to launch a small study session in 1999 to teach them basic Korean and other major subjects,” Lee says. “Back then, we had less than 10 students and studied in a tiny room in a basement in Gangdong District.” 

As the number of students increased, Lee and her husband felt the need to apply for official accreditation from the Mongolian government, which would entitle them to state funding. In addition, the students that studied with them in Seoul would be able to claim credits if they returned back home to Mongolian schools. 

“When families moved back to Mongolia, the schools didn’t accept their credits for the courses taken in Korea because we were not an accredited school,” Lee says. “And the students had to start all over again.” 

When it received the couple’s request for accreditation, the Mongolian government demanded the approval of the Korean government. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education was reluctant to give approval because it worried about illegal Mongolian immigrants, which were common in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

But the introduction of the Employment Permit System in 2004, a government-supported employment program, significantly brought down the number of illegal migrants, and the education office accredited the school in 2005. Still, the Foreign Ministry says that illegal workers accounted for 32 percent of Mongolian residents in Korea last year. 

The International Mongolia School is an officially established school, but the couple still faces various challenges - in particular, a lack of funding. 

“There is no official route to receive government subsidies,” Lee says. “We can apply for welfare support programs for migrant worker children, but that doesn’t ensure funds to run the school.” 

The school charges 1 million won ($975) a year for tuition, but the fees are far from sufficient. 

Because of its limited space, the principal has had to turn away Mongolian children and teenagers wishing to study. 

However, a glimmer of hope found its way to the couple when the Seoul city government decided to offer a new, bigger site for the school. 

The new building is scheduled to be completed by July, but the school is struggling to pay construction fees each month.

“We are relying on charity,” Lee says. “For this month, I’m not sure whether donations are enough to keep construction going. But I believe that we can manage to get through the financial troubles because we’ve come far from small study sessions with eight students.”

· Mongol Town

The International Mongolia School is a central place for younger Mongolians to learn and socialize. For adults, Mongol Town in Dongdaemun is a focal point for a variety of activities.

If you come out of exit No. 15 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, you can spot the 10-story Mongol Tower, easily recognized by its sign boards with Cyrillic characters. Inside, there are 48 businesses catering to Mongolians and Central Asians visiting or living in Korea, including travel agencies, foreign exchange kiosks and Mongolian restaurants.

What is known as Mongol Town started as a cluster of money-changing shops used by illegal Mongolian migrants residing in Korea in the late 1990s. 

The area has developed into a business hub and gathering place for many Russians and people from Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

They arrived in Dongdaemun after relations were established between Korea and the Soviet Union and particularly after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Soon, Dongdaemun had become Korea’s unofficial Russian Town.

And although there are still Russian restaurants in the neighborhood, the Russian merchants largely left for China and have been replaced by Central Asians and Mongolians.

According to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, 483 Mongolian nationals reside in Jung District, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total number of Mongolians in Seoul, which is 4,266. More than 400 people from Central Asia also reside in Jung District.



China's Xi meets Mongolian president in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, May 19 -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with his Mongolian counterpartTsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in Shanghai on Monday.

Elbegdorj was here to attend the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction andConfidence Building Measures in Asia scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Shanghai.

Xi called on both countries to be good neighbors, good friends and good partners, andsupport each other on issues of core interest and major concern.

China respects Mongolia's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and respects thedevelopment path that Mongolia has chosen for itself in accordance with its nationalconditions, Xi said.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of China-Mongolia diplomatic ties as well as theYear of China-Mongolia Friendly Exchanges. Both sides held celebrations that receivedwarm responses from the two peoples, Xi said, hailing the sound momentum of bilateralties.

"I care very much about China-Mongolia ties and assign great importance to them," Xisaid.

He proposed both sides keep close contacts and strategic communication between topleaders and step up exchanges among legislatures, parties and armed forces.

Noting the two economies are highly complementary, Xi said China sticks to the principlesof win-win cooperation and mutual benefits in developing economic ties with Mongolia.

China will consider mining, infrastructure construction and finance cooperation withMongolia as one issue of three aspects and plan their advancement accordingly, Xi said.

He called on both sides to take the construction of a Silk Road economic belt as anopportunity to expand cooperation.

China will encourage companies to invest in Mongolia, Xi said, vowing support for Mongoliain global and regional affairs.

"We are willing to enhance cooperation with Mongolia in multilateral organizations such asthe United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization," Xi added.

Elbegdorj said China's policies in developing ties with neighboring countries put forward byXi have offered important guidance and opportunity for enhancing Mongolia-China ties aswell as regional cooperation.

The Mongolian side is committed to working with China to make Mongolia-China ties anexample for country-to-country relations in the region, he said.

Elbegdorj invited Xi to pay a state visit to Mongolia at an early date.

He praised China's support for Mongolia, vowing to firmly back China on issues regardingTaiwan and Tibet.

Mongolia will implement bilateral agreements in good faith and beef up cooperation withChina in such areas as minerals, power and infrastructure building, he said.

Elbegdorj also vowed closer coordination with China in global and regional affairs.


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