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Battulga Khaltmaa (Mongolian: Халтмаагийн Баттулга, Khaltmaagiin Battulga, [xɑɮtʰ.maː.ɡiːŋ ˈbɑtʰ.tʰʊ.ɮɐɢ], born 3 March 1963) is a Mongolian politician and Sambo wrestler who has served as the President of Mongolia since 10 July 2017. He served as Member of the State Great Khural from 2004 to 2016 and Minister of Roads, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development from 2008 to 2012. Prior to his career in politics, Battulga was a Sambo wrestling champion. He was the Democratic Party's candidate in the 2017 presidential election, and was elected President with 50.6% in the run-off, the first ever run-off election in modern Mongolian history.[1] Mongolians are sharply divided about his role in the 2019 Mongolian constitutional crisis.

Battulga Khaltmaa
Халтмаагийн Баттулга
Khaltmaagiin Battulga (2017-09-07).jpg
5th President of Mongolia
Assumed office
10 July 2017
Prime MinisterJargaltulgyn Erdenebat
Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh
Preceded byTsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
Personal details
Born (1963-03-03) 3 March 1963 (age 56)
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Political partyDemocratic Party
Alma materNational University of Mongolia

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Battulga is a second child. His father and mother are both from Bayankhongor Province. The family was allocated a traditional ger in Yarmag ger district in Ulaanbaatar after they lost everything in the flood of Tuul River in 1966. Battulga grew up in the streets of Yarmag and went to a local secondary school. When he graduated from 8th grade, his teacher recommended that he apply to an arts school given his talents. Battulga graduated in 1982. While studying at the Arts School, Battulga sold his paintings to tourists around Bayangol Hotel area, learning sufficient English to help sell his artwork.

His father was a coach of Mongolian traditional wrestling and thus Battulga grew up wrestling. Battulga was a member of the Mongolian National wrestling team in 1979-1990. Battulga won the world cup championship in Ulaanbaatar in 1989. Wrestling allowed Battulga to travel internationally at a period, when travel abroad for Mongolians was not allowed. Battulga was awarded an Merited Sportsmen of Mongolia in 1995, thereafter being selected as the Chairman of Mongolian Judo Federation in 2006. Under Battulga’s leadership at the Judo Federation, Mongolian judokas became Olympic Champions for the first time in history.

In 1990, Battulga started sewing and selling jeans locally and in Hungary. This allowed him to make $600, sufficient to buy a video camera and to start an export-import business trading electronics from Singapore to Mongolia, Russia and Eastern Europe.[2][3]

Battulga, like many others of his generation was fascinated with The Godfather movie. Thus, he named his first company Genco. This nickname has stuck with him ever since.

Genco acquired controlling interests during the privatization of state-owned assets such as Bayangol Hotel and meat-processing factory Makh-Impex in 1997 and 1999 respectively. In the 1990s Genco group started one of the first taxi businesses in Mongolia called City Taxi, retail store operations under Sapporo name, lottery business, restaurant and night club operations, flour milling and bread making factory Talkh Chikher LLC.

Political viewsEdit

In 2004, Battulga became a Member of Parliament for the first time from Bayankhongor province. He was re-elected to parliament in 2008 and 2012.

Battulga believes that every Mongolian citizen should benefit from its mineral wealth according to article 6.1 of the Constitution of Mongolia, under which mineral resources are to be developed in consideration of ensuring the nation's economic security and the development of all forms of property and social development of the population. Due to landlocked geography of Mongolia, Battulga views that a unified railway network would enhance the global competitiveness of its national mining industry by creating multiple access points through which the country can target multiple inland and seaborne markets. Furthermore, Battulga believes, given the cyclical nature of commodity markets, industrial clusters designed to do value-add processing of mineral products should be established to create skilled jobs, introduce downstream industrial technologies and diversify the economy, enhancing local purchasing power that would create economic multiplier effect in housing, services and other economic sectors. Battulga thinks that agriculture has a prominent place in diversifying the economy as Mongolia is rich in livestock, about 60 million, with largest consumers of agricultural products as its neighbors. He believes cashmere and leather products could be successfully marketed internationally because of the scarcity factor.

Recognizing these principles, Battulga sponsored the State Policy of Railway Transportation of Mongolia (“Railway Policy”) with the Parliament approving it with 84% votes in 24 June 2010 to construct 5,600 km railway base infrastructure in three phases that calls for providing access to multiple seaports in China and Russia, creating three transportation corridors between China, Russia and Europe, as well as establishing and industrial cluster in Sainshand.

Battulga acknowledges that limited human resources and financial capability of Mongolia requires multilateral international participation in the development of the economy, rather than making bilateral arrangement with its neighbors. Battulga strongly opposes control of mineral resources by a few politically connected businessmen reaping of great profits and increase income gap between the rich and the poor, potentially creating political and social instability in the country. For example, as the Minister responsible for development of infrastructure and industrial projects, Battulga encouraged participation of international companies in the development of business cases, feasibility and necessary detailed engineering studies, resulting in selection of Bechtel Enterprises, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Guggenheim, Fluor, McKinsey & Company, Nippon Koei, Pillsbury Winthrop Pittman Shaw LLP, Samsung, Sidley Austin LLP, Taylor Wessing. As a result, many international companies have expressed their interest to invest, provide technologies and construction services, such as Air Liquide (France), Baotou Steel (China), Dandong Port (China), Overseas Infrastructure Alliance (India), OAO Russian Railways (Russia), Rao UES (Russia), Sembcorp (Singapore), Sinohydro (China), Steel Authority of India Limited (India), among many others.[4][5][6]

On 3 November 2012, the Government of Mongolia announced that it resolved to build 1,800 km railway infrastructure integrating Phase 1 and 2 of the Railway Policy. Stakeholders such as Hong Kong listed Mongolian Mining Corporation greeted such government policy in its press release stating that the policy is particularly beneficial for Mongolian coal exporters.

Battulga was instrumental in background coordination for preparation work and ultimate signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between Governments of Mongolia and Japan during official visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 22 October 2015. This memorandum expresses intention of Japan to invest in the construction of railway infrastructure from Tavan Tolgoi coal mine to Sainshand railway line connecting it to the Trans-Mongolian Railway Network and providing access to Chinese and Russian seaports. Furthermore, plans have been made for Chinese, Russian and Japanese investments in financing the railway in exchange of coking coal sourcing from Mongolia. Investment blueprint and roadmap was agreed with the Japanese government, Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Japanese major trading companies.

 
Vladimir Putin and Battulga Khaltmaa in Vladivostok
 
Battulga with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

Battulga believes foreign direct investment on balanced terms is an important catalyst for Mongolia’s economic development and job creation. His policies has been aimed at enhancing fair, transparent and reciprocal trade.

Battulga criticizes Mongolian economy’s heavy dependence on a single trade partner, thus faces fierce opposition and attacks from shareholders and stakeholders of coal miners.[7]

Presidency (2017–Present)Edit

InaugurationEdit

The inauguration of Battulga took place at the State Palace on 10 July 2017 in the presence of Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat and former president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.[8] He took the oath of office In traditional Mongolian nomadic dress. In his presidential address, he laid out the principles for his term, including one for the industrialization of the country. He also said that he will work to maintain and expand the good-neighbor relations with Russia and China and will "pay utmost attention" to the third neighbor policy, referring to the United States.[9] At the conclusion of the ceremony, he went outside to lay wreaths at the monuments to Damdin Sükhbaatar and Chinggis Khaan.[10] He also received state heraldry, including the state stamp and the presidential certificate.[11]

Domestic policyEdit

Within days of his inauguration, he took measures to reinstate the death penalty for sexual offenders. This came days after the death penalty in its entirety was abolished in the country.[12] On 16 October, Battulga announced the creation of an expert group to look into the reinstatement of the death penalty for premeditated murder committed and rape circumstances.[13] The folloeing month, he submitted his proposal to the justice and interior ministry.[14] In a speech to the during the opening of the autumn session of the State Great Khural, he claimed that a systemic social crisis is to blame for the national challenges that posed a threat to the country.[15]

"The problem lies within the system itself, rather than due to a single individual or political party. Regardless of how good the person or the political party is, they become victims of the irresponsible, poorly coordinated, and unaccountable system, and an adverse condition is set where problems keep piling up and stress levels in the society keep rising."[16]

Since his assumption to office, Battulga has made it standard practice for people to put their hand on their heart during the performance of the National anthem of Mongolia by a concert or military band, as well as a vocal performance. On 27 March 2019, the State Great Khural began a constitutional crisis when it adopted an unprecedented law which gave the National Security Council of Mongolia the power to recommend the dismissal of judges and prosecutors, as well as the head of the national anti-corruption service. Battulga's political party, which is the opposition's main minority faction in the parliament, claims that the law undermines the country's constitutional separation of powers and the larger Mongolian democratic system.[17]

Foreign policyEdit

Battulga is largely seen as a pro-Russian politician and a Russophile due to his Russian ties and his knowledge of the Russian language. He is commonly compared to Russian President Vladimir Putin due to their shared love and experience in the Judo sport. When speaking on this fact to Putin during a summit in Eastern Russia in September 2017, Putin said that the shared sport will help "develop a good working and personal relationship."[18] On 14 June 2018, after the conclusion of the Singapore Summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump,[19] Battulga congratulated both leaders, telling Chairman Kim that he considers the summit as a "landmark event not only for the North Korea–United States relations, but for the Northeast Asian region and the Korean Peninsula".[20] Battulga was widely expected to host the summit as the Mongolian head of state due to the fact that the country in recent years has sponsored many regional summits and is easily accessible by train from Pyongyang, North Korea.[21] Days after the summit, Battulga invited invited Kim to Ulan Bator for a state visit in honor of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.[22] Earlier in mid-March, Battulga in a telegram to Trump appeals to him to advance trade relations, saying that although Mongolia is an "oasis of democracy", it does not "does not contribute to economic development".[23][24][25] During a visit to Kyrgyzstan in June 2019, he opened the Mongolian Embassy in Bishkek.[26]

International trips as PresidentEdit

Date Country City Type of visit/Reason for visit
29 August-1 September 2017   Hungary Budapest 2017 World Judo Championships[27]
4–7 September 2017   Russia Vladivostok Eastern Economic Forum[28]
9–10 June 2018   China Qingdao Shanghai Cooperation Organization[29]
11–13 September 2018   Russia Vladivostok Eastern Economic Forum[30]
24 September 2018   Azerbaijan Baku Working visit[31]
18–19 October 2018   Belgium Brussels 12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit[32]
22–26 October 2018    Switzerland Geneva 2018 World Investment Forum
24–28 April 2019   China Beijing State visit[33]
12–14 June 2019   Kyrgyzstan Bishkek State visit[34]

Private lifeEdit

He was married by his second marriage to Angelique Davain, a Russian by nationality and native of the Khentii Province.[35] His first wife was the director of the Nүүdelchin Company. He is currently a father to two sets of twin sons. Aside from Mongolian, Battulga is also fluent in Russian and English.[36][37][38]

Social contributionsEdit

Battulga sponsored construction of Chingis Khan Equestrian Statue near Ulaanbaatar to celebrate national pride. The statue became one of the main tourist attraction sights.[39][40]

Battulga is also the President of Mongolian Judo Association. Under his guidance, Mongolian judoka Tuvshinbayar Naidan became an Olympic Judo Champion in Beijing 2008 and many other successful judokas that have become national heroes. Thanks to these successes judo has become one of the most popular sports in Mongolia.[41][42]

Khaltmaagiin Battulga
Medal record
Representing   Mongolia
Men's Sambo
  1983 Kiev –52 kg
  1986 Saint-Jean-de-Luz –52 kg
  1990 Moscow –57 kg

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.gec.gov.mn/details/2188
  2. ^ Became national bestseller[permanent dead link], 8 January 2016
  3. ^ “24 Facts from the Biography of a Mongolian Millionaire: Kh.Battulga” by D.Undrakh, 24tsag.mn, 22 August 2012,
  4. ^ “Stories Behind Imprisonments” by G.Mongon, Eagle.com, 27 November 2015,
  5. ^ Corporate website Talkh Chikher LLC
  6. ^ Constitution of Mongolia, Article 5.4, 13 January 1992
  7. ^ http://www.theasanforum.org/mongolias-shrinking-foreign-policy-space/
  8. ^ http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-07/10/c_136432805.htm
  9. ^ https://president.mn/en/2017/07/10/inauguration-address-by-khaltmaagiin-battulga-the-president-of-mongolia-at-the-ceremony-of-presidential-swearing-into-office/
  10. ^ https://president.mn/en/2017/07/10/the-president-of-mongolia-khaltmaagiin-battulga-pays-tribute-to-the-statues-of-d-sukhbaatar-and-chinggis-khaan/
  11. ^ https://president.mn/en/2017/07/10/president-battulga-receives-state-stamp/
  12. ^ https://www.efe.com/efe/english/world/mongolian-president-to-begin-process-reinstate-death-penalty/50000262-3570539
  13. ^ https://president.mn/?p=1664
  14. ^ http://olloo.mn/n/48678.html, 2017-11-24
  15. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/10/01/address-by-president-at-the-opening-of-the-fall-session-of-the-parliament-2018/
  16. ^ https://montsame.mn/en/read/166223
  17. ^ "Mongolia's President is slicing away its hard won democracy". Foreignpolicy.com. 29 March 2019.
  18. ^ http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55551
  19. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/06/13/head-of-state-congratulates-president-donald-j-trump-on-singapore-summit/
  20. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/06/13/president-congratulates-the-dprk-chairman-kim-jong-un-on-the-singapore-summit/
  21. ^ "US-North Korea talks have many obstacles to overcome – starting with where to meetwebsite=South China Morning Post". 10 April 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  22. ^ https://www.nknews.org/2018/10/mongolian-president-invites-kim-jong-un-to-ulaanbaatar/
  23. ^ https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN1GP0PI
  24. ^ https://timesofoman.com/Image/142704/Mongolia%27s-role-as-an-oasis-of-democracy-in-a-region-where-auth?photo=1&sum-photo=1
  25. ^ https://www.euronews.com/2018/03/13/mongolia-president-appeals-to-us-for-trade-to-protect-democracy
  26. ^ http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/13/c_138141023.htm
  27. ^ https://president.mn/en/2017/08/29/president-battulga-working-in-budapest/
  28. ^ https://president.mn/en/2017/09/04/president-battulga-arrives-in-vladivostok-for-eastern-economic-forum/
  29. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/06/09/president-departs-for-shanghai-cooperation-organization-summit/
  30. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/09/10/president-khaltmaagiin-battulga-to-attend-the-4th-eastern-economic-forum/
  31. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/09/24/president-khaltmaagiin-battulga-on-a-working-visit-to-azerbaijan/
  32. ^ https://president.mn/en/2018/10/16/president-to-attend-the-12th-asem-summit-and-the-world-investment-forum/
  33. ^ https://president.mn/en/2019/04/23/president-to-pay-state-visit-to-china-attend-the-belt-and-road-forum/
  34. ^ https://president.mn/en/2019/06/12/president-battulga-formally-greeted-by-his-kyrgyz-counterpart/
  35. ^ https://www.eg.ru/politics/363200/
  36. ^ "Новый президент Монголии — миллиардер, дзюдоист, художник, с русской женой: EADaily". EADaily (in Russian). Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  37. ^ "Интересное о Монголии - Страница 606" (in Russian). www.zabvo.su. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  38. ^ "Кто такой кандидат в президенты Монголии Халтмаагийн Баттулга" (in Russian). Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  39. ^ Genghis Khan Rules Mongolia Again, in a P.R. Campaign, New York Times, 2 August 2009
  40. ^ Mongolian Judo: From Tradition to Modernity, 10 August 2013
  41. ^ Locked Countries Conference, Ministry of Roads and Transportation of Mongolia[permanent dead link], June 2014
  42. ^ Mongolian Mining Corporation, Announcement On The Government Of Mongolia’s Decision On Unified Railway Network Development Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 4 November 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
President of Mongolia
2017–present
Incumbent