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Gauck lauds Mongolia as 'example' of democracy in the region

Germany's president has praised democratic progress in Mongolia, holding it up as a model example for neighboring Russia and China. Gauck is wrapping up a nearly week-long trip to East Asia.

German President Joachim Gauck said Thursday that he was impressed by Mongolia's efforts to "strengthen democracy and the rule of law."

"Your country is now in a position to give a good example of fair and free elections in the region," he said, adding that it was clear Mongolia "respects the principles of democracy, even if it's not always easy."

Unlike China and Russia, Gauck said, Mongolia had "chosen democracy and a market economy," and would have Germany's support in future development.

Earlier in the day, Gauck was received with military honors by President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (above, left) in the capital, Ulan Bator. Gauck also met with students and teachers at the German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology, founded in 2013 as part of a raw materials partnership between the two countries.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has contributed 4 million euros ($4.6 million) to the project, which aims to train specialists in the mineral resource sector.

Rich in resources

Mongolia - more than four times the size of Germany and home to around 3 million people - is the world's least densely populated country. It also has a wealth of raw materials, with huge deposits of coal, copper, gold, uranium and rare earths. The country is largely dependent on exports to China, and resource-driven economic growth has started to slacken in recent years.

Behind the UK, Germany is Mongolia's principal trading partner in the European Union. During his visit, Gauck said he hoped to improve cooperation between Germany and Mongolia in several fields, including science, culture and research.

For decades, Mongolia was a tightly controlled satellite of the Soviet Union. But with the end of the Cold War, the country underwent a peaceful democratic revolution and subsequently introduced a multi-party political system and market economy.

Gauck's Asia trip ends Friday with a visit to the archaeological site of Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan. German funding has supported joint excavations at the site for the past two decades.

nm/ (AFP, dpa)

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