President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj agreed to the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists’ request to meet journalists twice a year for a discussion of timely matters, and the first of the informal, uncensored meetings was held on October 6 at the Hall of Negotiations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting was broadcast live by Mongolian National Broadcaster, Eagle Television, news.mn and ikon.mn.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Ts.Elbegdorj urged journalists to ask him about anything and promised to give them honest answers. Questions related to the privatization of Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC), the murder of S.Zorig, E.Bat-Uul’s resignation from the position of Chairman of the Ulaanbaatar Democratic Party, and other social, political, and economic matters.
President Ts.Elbegdorj criticized Vice Speaker of Parliament Ts.Nyamdorj for putting on a political show last week by making an “exaggerated” claim about EMC. He prompted Ts.Nyamdorj to do his work properly without stirring up debate.
Later, Ts.Nyamdorj responded, “I have the right to receive reports and raise issues as an MP, and I was informed about Erdenet by other agencies. Today, Ts.Elbegdorj made it seem as if I conspired with B.Choijinsuren and took all of the 49 percent of Erdenet shares.”
“The one who organized the procurement of 49 percent of Erdenet’s shares is Ts.Elbedorj himself. During the trilateral meeting in Tashkent, on June 29, Trade and Development Bank employee O.Orkhon personally went to finalize [the negotiation]. I only reported this. Don’t make a mess of things,” he added.
Other comments made by President Ts.Elbegdorj during his meeting with journalists have been heating up debate. Below are answers provided by the President to a number of questions on Mongolia’s hot button topics.
“No matter how much we cry, the railways will not return to the ownership of a Mongolian company. We have to trust ourselves. When Russia dispersed, it returned the railways to every nation. When Mongolia was told to take back its railway, some people were scared of managing it themselves and decided to not take it back. Now there’s no use in crying,” the President stated.
The President stated that the government wants to go through with the standby credit facility negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), because they fear that the situation will worsen if budgetary discipline isn’t established with the help of the IMF.
“We’re unable to manage our undisciplined budget on our own,” Ts.Elbegdorj said. “Things really get messy when politicians see money.”
“The Prime Minister must be able to exercise all his rights and powers. Mongolia has plenty of people who speak their mind, but it doesn’t have enough people who actually do things. Politicians only think of the next election. A statesman thinks about the next generation,” noted Ts.Elbegdorj.
He called on the Prime Minister and the executive branch of government to do their work and underlined, “Mongolia fully supports the right to criticize. The Prime Minister’s seat is for a person who fights and thinks for the nation.”
POLITICAL PARTY REFORM
The President says that the DP needs to define its party’s views and determine its rules based on its future plans. “We have to represent everyone, including vulnerable and poor people; those who hate me, and those who praise me.” He encouraged the reform of the party and expressed support for anyone who advocates for it.
Political parties are dividing Mongolians, said the President. He said that one group is fighting to remove another group, and that the conflict can be resolved only through the law.
“The economic crisis is a disease. We can overcome it if we are able to unite and do something about it. Parliament has every right to make decisions about this. We must make decisions without fearing the risks,” said Ts.Elbegdorj.
“Offshore accounts should be forbidden. If there’s anyone with an offshore account, they should be held accountable,” Ts.Elbegdorj insisted.
“When elected to office, you do as promised. The Law on Criminal Investigation and Charges and the Conflicts of Interest Law should’ve been enacted. The Law on Combating Domestic Violence is directly linked to these legislations,” Ts.Elbegdorj said. The President believes that enforcing these laws would’ve created opportunities to separate from the “black” system and its unwritten laws.
“The people required to implement the laws made too many excuses. The Cabinet and Parliament should order them to enforce the law, and if they don’t comply, chase them away. The strings were pulled from behind the scenes by Ts.Nyamdorj,” the President claimed.
THE DEATH PENALTY
President Ts.Elbegdorj noted, “Courts, regardless of their country, don’t always make the correct rulings. I’m not saying people sentenced to the death penalty should be pardoned, but cases shouldn’t be wrongfully ruled.”
He expressed his deep hatred for people who instigate bad things but said he’s against death penalty. “Being against the death penalty doesn’t mean I’m defending bad conduct,” Ts.Elbegdorj explained.
When asked what the President plans to do after his presidential term ends, he stated that he only worries about tomorrow’s work for Mongolia, and nothing else. He added that he will work hard if he needs to work.