Mongolia is situated in an incredibly challenging geographic location. A sparsely populated landlocked country with the population of Berlin, it shares more than 8000 km of borders with two much larger neighbours: Russia to the north and China to the south. All of Mongolia’s exports and imports have to pass through these two countries. Sandwiched between these giants, Mongolia is holding its own as a democracy and is making its influence felt far beyond its own neighbourhood. This is also demonstrated by the first-ever Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Ulan Bator convened by my counterpart Batmunkh Battsetseg. It is the first conference of its kind in Asia to address the issues of feminist foreign policy.
I would like to use the Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Ulan Bator above all to listen to our Asian and African partners and to find out more about their commitment to women’s rights and equality in a direct dialogue with them. For many years, Mongolia has been among the countries seconding the most women to United Nations peacekeeping operations, for example. I am interested in how we can learn from these experiences also for our involvement in UN missions. After all, women’s participation is a barometer of the state of our societies. In places where all people enjoy equal rights and opportunities, everyone benefits.
Owing to its exposed geographical location, Mongolia is also looking for “third neighbours”, close partners including those far from its own borders with Russia and China. Germany is one such “third neighbour” as the democracies of the world must stand together – above and beyond high mountains and steppes.