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  • Documents on Democracy

Mongolia/North Korea

On October 30, near the end of his official state visit to North Korea, Mongolian president Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj delivered a speech at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang highlighting the importance of freedom. Excerpts from his speech appear below:

No speech on Mongolia's foreign policy would be complete without noting some crucial aspects of our domestic policy, for Mongolia's foreign and domestic policies are entwined and holistic.

We, Mongolia, are a country that respects human rights and freedoms, upholds rule of law, and pursues open policies. Mongolia holds dear the fundamental human rights—freedom of expression, the right to assembly, and the right to live by one's own choice.

I believe in the power of freedom. Freedom is an asset bestowed upon every single man and woman. Freedom enables every human to discover and realize his or her opportunities and chances for development. This leads a human society to progress and prosperity. Free people look for solutions in themselves. And those without freedom search outside themselves for the sources of their miseries. Mongols say, "Better to live by your own choice, however bitter it is, than to live by another's choice, however sweet."

No tyranny lasts forever. It is the desire of the people to live free that is the eternal power. In 1990, Mongolia made a dual political and economic transition, concurrently, without shattering a single window or shedding a single drop of blood. Let me draw just one example. Over twenty years ago, the share of the private sector in Mongolia's GDP was less than 10 percent, whereas today it accounts for over 80 percent. So, a free society is a path on which to go—a way to live, rather than a goal to accomplish.

Strengthening a free society and transitioning to it is not easy. It is a daily task, a grueling mundane routine to cleanse our free society of ills [End Page 179] and dirt, just as parents change the diapers of their babies every morning. These days Mongolia is paying concerted attention to judicial reform. Corruption is a mortal enemy on our way to development. Mongolia strives to implement a policy of zero tolerance to corruption.

We do not hide our shadow. Our mistakes and our lessons are open. Freedom is a system where one can make a mistake, and also learn from the mistake. The path a free and open society walks on is a learning process itself. I am a learning man as well. I was born to a herder's family. I am the youngest of a couple with eight sons. And I am very happy for the chance given by the free choice of my people to serve the common interests of my people.

Burma/Czech Republic

On September 15-18, the Forum 2000 Foundation held its seventeenth annual conference in Prague, entitled "Societies in Transition." During the opening ceremony, Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a speech in honor of Václav Havel, who founded Forum 2000 along with Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel in order to support democracy, human rights, civil society, and tolerance. Excerpts from her speech appear below:

Of course, all of you know that it is thanks to [Václav Havel] that I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and I have never made a secret of the fact that if instead of nominating me he had accepted the nomination for himself, he would have been the Nobel Peace [Prize] Winner of 1991. I will always believe that because I think that was the truth—and he believed in truth, facing the truth.

I have tried to look at different aspects of his life and of his work for human rights and for democracy and wondered how I would like him to be remembered in my country and in other countries where democracy and human rights are valued. I see him primarily as a man who loved freedom. That is so important for us—freedom—and when I say that he loved freedom, what I mean is that love entails cherishing, and cherishing entails...


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pp. 179-183
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