Halonen offers Mongolia mining technology and support in building democracy
Visit “probably” last foreign trip of Halonen’s presidency
President Tarja Halonen fully enjoyed the final moments of her official visit to Mongolia on Thursday.
The Finnish President was treated to an array of performances including throat singing, acrobatics, wrestling, dance, and horse riding. During the show Halonen was offered airag – the traditional Mongolian drink made out of fermented horse’s milk.
The President was also given a chance to show her skills in archery. Halonen’s arrow fell close to her own feet, but one that was shot by her husband Pentti Arajärvi flew in an impressive arch.
“I took it with a sense of humour, because I knew that I can’t shoot an arrow”, Halonen explained.
The three-day visit is “probably the last” foreign trip of her presidency, Halonen said.
It is a return visit, after last year’s trip to Finland by the Mongolian president.
President Halonen got a glowing reception, with President Chakhia Elbegordj calling his colleague a “master” in global affairs, and his “honoured sister”.
There were about 20 people in Halonen’s entourage, including Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party) and about a dozen Finnish business executives.
The sparsely-populated Mongolia is a poor and exotic country of fewer than three million inhabitants. However, it has rich natural resources. International mining companies are competing to get a foothold in Mongolia, whose rate of economic growth might prove to be the highest in the world this year.
The Finnish delegation also had representatives of mining companies. Pertti Korhonen, CEO of the mining company Outotec, was very pleased that Stubb and Halonen helped beat the path for Finnish companies.
“When development in Mongolia really gets started, there will be excellent opportunities for Finnish companies as well”, Korhonen said. Outotec has been in Mongolia for about ten years, and during the President’s visit the company signed an agreement on advisory services for exploiting the country’s mineral wealth.
In addition to cooperation in mining, Finland said that it wanted to help Mongolia develop its democratic institutions.
Mongolia has studied the political systems of a number of European countries, and the leaders have decided to strive for a so-called Nordic welfare society.
“Finland is an excellent role model for Mongolia”, President Elbegorj said.
President Halonen also sees democracy as a good export product – in addition to mining technology.
“There is demand for it, and it seems to be selling well. However, we need to keep an eye on the quality”, Halonen said.
The Mongolian President would have wanted Finnish reindeer or reindeer semen to help upgrade the country’s weak reindeer population. Instead of reindeer, Halonen brought her hosts Finnish art glass. However, cooperation in the field of reindeer is continuing.
President Halonen arrives in Mongolia - without reindeer (31.8.2011)