Peter Schaller

The Old Days are over: Germany’s Development Cooperation with Mongolia and Foreign Policy

1. In this article I deal with the reorientation of German development cooperation (DC), which was presented in the summer of 2020 under the name "Reform Concept BMZ 2030« by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). This has resulted in Mongolia no longer receiving direct government funding. Existing projects will be wound up, but there will be no new bilateral projects thereafter (BMZ 2020). This is especially remarkable as in the last thirty years, Germany has been among the largest donors of development aid for Mongolia and has been in one of the top three places, together with the USA and Japan, and sometimes in first place depending on the year. Since the beginning of development cooperation in 1991 until 2021, Germany's total contributions amount to around 49O million euros or almost 560 million US dollars (Deutsche Botschaft 2021).

In view of this new decision, the question arises as to why this form of cooperation with Mongolia is not being continued and whether this decision is »wrong«. The guiding consideration in answering this question are the foreign policy interests of the German Federal Republic, which are brought to bear in the new concept. The bottom line is that Mongolia no longer has a prominent place in Germany's development cooperation and also not in its foreign policy.

2. The world is facing major challenges, which can be described by the following mega trends: worldwide population growth; climate change; conflict, displacement and flight; globalization and digitalization; growing inequality; environmental and precarious working conditions. DC should respond to these mega trends as a »cross-cutting task« (BMZ 2020). We live in »ONE WORLD« (BMZ 2021). But we cannot pursue a sensible policy on the basis of this observation, which is banal in its generality, that everything in the world is somehow interconnected and that even the proverbial sack of rice that falls over in China thus acquires global political relevance. To give everybody an equal share does not work. Even if development politicians, above all the responsible minister, regularly call for increases in the DC budget, it will never be so high that »everything« can be tackled with. Priorities have to be set. The conviction that one goes into the world to do good and heal its deficiencies, and in doing so sets oneself up as the »world champion of helpfulness« (Göring-Eckardt 2015) with a firmly founded sense of mission, as is apparently part of the self-image in some political circles in Germany, is not a good advisor (Winkler 2020). It should only be noted in passing that this attitude is combined with the demand that German foreign policy must be led by (democratic/humanitarian) values. This postulate is problematic because in practice it cannot be followed through with the relentlessness with which it is put forward. This is also shown by the Reform Concept 2030.

DC can reasonably only be a component of foreign policy, because foreign policy and DC are closely interlinked. Therefore, a division into two ministries which is the case in Germany, makes little sense from a conceptual and practical point of view. Most recently, in the 2009 Bundestag election campaign, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) demanded that the small BMZ with around 1,200 staff be incorporated as a department into the Federal Foreign Office, which has around 12,000 staff, and as is the case, for example, in Austria, France, the Netherlands and other countries. However, after entering the government in 2009, the FDP preferred to bury its demand, obviously because the then Secretary General of the party had to be provided with a ministerial post. Thus the chance of a merger was lost. Great Britain, which is endowed with a keen sense of foreign policy interests due to its status as a former world power and as a member of the UN Security Council, integrated its Department for International Development into the Foreign Office in 2020, which is now called the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office). In other words, exactly the opposite development as in Germany in 2009. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab stated: »We are integrating our aid budget with our diplomatic clout in the new FCDO to maximize the impact of our foreign policy.« He added that it was the intention »to strengthen further transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayers' money and relentlessly focus our Global Britain strategy on policies and in areas that deliver the most value.« (italics by the author) (British Government 2020). 

Ever since DC has existed, its effectiveness has been criticized. There are three main points: 1. development projects do not have an impact on higher-level structures; 2. the negative effects, such as cementing dependency and preventing the recipients of the measure from taking the initiative, predominate; and 3. most of the funds are consumed by transfer costs, or in other words: DC mainly serves to support the army of people working in the development sector, which in Germany for decades also included a phenomenon that was incomprehensible from a legal point of view and scandalous from a socio-political point of view, namely the »no taxation« of German development experts who were not liable to pay taxes either at home or abroad (Schäfers 2014).

I will not go into the discussion on evaluations of the effectiveness of DC here, but only note that these evaluations consistently lack evidence (Faust 2010; Nuschler 2008). When the project-executing agencies themselves measure their success, one can imagine the results they come to, because they want to stay in business and get new contracts. In addition, in most developing countries there is no data basis on which development goals could not only be set, but their achievement could also be monitored. In other words, there is no clear picture of what DC actually achieves. 

3. The relationship between states is to a great extent determined by clichés. As a rule, these do not correspond or only half correspond to reality, but have the advantage of being suitable for official proclamations and Sunday speeches. These clichés, which take on a life of their own and are repeated without reflection like a mantra devoid of meaning, are needed to postulate affinity and special relations that do not really exist and, in many cases, cannot be justified by foreign policy interests. 

In the German-Mongolian relationship, these are above all three elements: 1) the common history, 2) the common value orientation - Mongolia as a »beacon of democracy«, 3) the economy - Mongolia as a supplier of raw materials (especially rare earths). Taken together, then, the German-Mongolian relationship is considered to be a special one, determined not or mainly by interests, but by »friendship«. However, »friendship« is a category of only limited use in politics, and even more so in relations between states (Schaller 2013).

On history: to describe the Battle of Liegnitz in 1241, the collection of information about Mongolia at German universities and in religious communities at the beginning of the 18th century, and the business contacts maintained by individual merchants as German-Mongolian »relations« is a full-blown euphemism. If anything, »touching« is more accurate. The stay of a group of Mongolian students in the 1920s is regularly cited as one of the »great moments« of German-Mongolian relations. The students were withdrawn prematurely because of the conflict between capitalism and socialism that was beginning to unfold. Mongolia was a satellite of the USSR for the next 60 years and had no freedom of action in foreign policy. Although referred to on every occasion, the student episode had no influence on the relationship between the two states. 

The »old« FRG (or West Germany) had no real relationship with the Mongolian People's Republic (MPR). There had been diplomatic relations since 1974, but a West German embassy was never established in Ulan Bator and, conversely, a Mongolian embassy in Bonn. The German ambassador in Moscow, almost 5,000 km away as the crow flies, was responsible for Mongolia, which is saying enough. German-Mongolian relations at that time were practically exclusively between the German Democratic Republic (GDR - or East Germany) and the MPR, both countriesembedded in the community of socialist states and the corresponding »friendship« and (development) solidarity prescribed and ideologically justified therein, which, however, did not stem from the GDR's very own interests. The GDR was one of the most important host countries for Mongolian students and trainees, which led to a wide range of social relations that continue to have an impact today.

With the dissolution of the GDR, the Federal Republic »inherited« the GDR's relations with Mongolia. In 1990, the reunified Germany was therefore faced with the question of how to shape relations in the future. From then on, it was in the interest of the Federal Republic to make Mongolia's democratic-market-economic reorientation irreversible. This approach was pursued by the reunited Germany together with the states of the EU and the USA in the entire post-Soviet region and especially in the successor states of the Soviet Union. They saw themselves as part of the »end of history« mega trend. Strategically, the main aim was to fill the power vacuum created by the collapse of the USSR in the successor states of the SU and to prevent authoritarian restoration tendencies. As is well known, this did not succeed, because in these newly emerged states communist forms of rule had for sixty years intermarried with traditional authoritarian ones. One exception is the Baltic states, which took a different direction mainly because of their admission to the EU. In the case of Mongolia, by contrast, it was relatively easy to maintain unencumbered relations because Mongolia opted for democracy and capitalism with the fall of communism, there was no authoritarian restoration and thus there was a common ideological basis (common value orientation). For example, the transitions from the GDR to the reunited FRG were much more complicated in Cuba and North Korea, both of which I experienced on the ground, because the ideological orientation did not change in these two countries.

On common value orientation or the »beacon of democracy« : From the beginning of the 2000s and after the chaotic democratization and the infection of state and society by mafia-like (economic) structures at the time of Yeltsin's rule, which led to a discrediting of the Western understanding of democracy among the Russian population that was understandable to any unbiased observer, Russia increasingly developed into an authoritarian system, not least because Putin made it clear to the oligarchs that they had to step back and leave politics to the Russian president. At the latest after the flying change between Medvedev and Putin in 2008, it was clear that the idea of democratic development had not prevailed. Mongolia profited from this, which now shone between two undemocratically governed neighbours as a model of successful political-economic transformation, and from the US perspective had to serve as proof that democracy is possible in Asia, as Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, put it in 2012. Moreover, with the exception of 2008, Mongolian parliamentary elections have succeeded in bringing about peaceful change of government every time, which is generally considered a sign of the maturity of a democracy. 

However, there should be no doubt that Mongolia is a democracy with significant shortcomings. To describe these would require a separate essay, so here are just a few examples: limited separation of powers; lack of independence of the judiciary; posts in parliament and government that can be bought, parties as patronage organizations; rule by a political-economic elite (oligopoly) that exploits the country for its own enrichment, and a rampant corruption whose fight is subject to considerations of political usefulness. In its renowned democracy index, the British magazine »Economist« therefore ranks Mongolia among the »flawed democracies«, which are characterized, among other things, by an underdeveloped political culture, low inclusion of the population in political decisions and deficiencies in government action (The Economist 2021). Since the fall of communism, the average life span of Mongolian governments has been around 18 months instead of the constitutionally stipulated four years, which shows that the political-economic elite is not interested in the long-term development of the country, but rather gets caught up in power games. The air pollution in Ulan Bator and the other Mongolian cities is another example of the failure of all Mongolian governments.

GDP has fluctuated between US$ 10-13 billion for about a decade. Thus, the many governments that have taken turns during this period have failed to sustainably increase economic output. Most importantly, all governments have been unable to harness the economic potential of the country to improve the lives of its people as a whole. According to the UNDP's Human Development Index, Mongolia is ranked 99th in 2019, almost exactly in the middle of the scores of 189 countries. The poverty rate is 28.4 per cent. In 1995, during the economically particularly difficult period after the fall of communism in 1989/90, it was 36 per cent. Within 25 years, there has been an improvement of only about 7 percentage points. In the current Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Mongolia is ranked 111 out of 179 countries, with 179 denoting the most corrupt system, and has a CPI score of 35, with 88 denoting the most corrupt and 12 the cleanest system (Transparency International 2021). From 2012 to 2020, there is no significant improvement, but the score fluctuates between 39 and 35. 

The negative developments can be extended almost indefinitely: Mongolia's total debt is striking, exceeding the GDP several times and thus far exceeding the internationally accepted rate. In 2017, the country could only be saved from bankruptcy with a loan of 5.5 billion US dollars provided under the leadership of the IMF. The use of international loans is non-transparent and questionable. Mongolian state-owned enterprises, which dominate the extractive sector, are self-service shops of the respective ruling parties. Before every election, costly gifts are distributed among the population that make no economic sense and are socio-politically harmful. Above all, Mongolia has not been able to reduce its dependence on the extractive industries, develop small and medium-sized enterprises and diversify the economy. 

The former state president Kh. Battulga has stated that he sees Mongolia as heading towards a »kleptocratic state system«, and according to estimates, the corruption money moving around Mongolia is larger than the state budget.

In other words: Mongolia lacks any good governance, which is or should always be a criterion for development cooperation. Although Mongolia, as a deficient democracy, is in »good neighbourhood« with, for example, some Eastern European EU states, to call it a »beacon of democracy« shows a consistent denial of reality. 

In summary, there is no reason to »reward« Mongolia's internal development so far with DC, and there is no hope that Mongolia's development record will improve, as this would require a fundamental overhaul of the political system and mental make-up of the dominating economic-political elite, neither of which is in sight.

On economy or raw materials: In connection with Mongolia, the so-called agreement on raw materials (Agreement on cooperation in the fields of raw materials, industry and technology) concluded in 2011, the first of its kind concluded by Germany with another state, is mentioned again and again. The agreement was primarily intended to help secure the supply of raw materials, especially rare earths, for German industry. In the 10 years up to now, nothing has happened in this area. There are still no projects, not even for rare earths. The reasons are manifold. In the main, they lie in the fact that German industry can meet its needs elsewhere and, as Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi show, Mongolia is pursuing an erratic raw materials policy, which has permanently destroyed the confidence of Western investors. Moreover, Mongolia consistently expects complete financing of economic projects, which states like China can do with their state funds, but which the Federal Republic cannot (and will not) provide. Mongolia not only plays no role in supplying the German economy with raw materials, but is an economically unimportant partner in general, ranking 121st in German foreign trade statistics, with economic exchange between Germany and Mongolia having ranged between 110 and 160 million Euros for years (Federal Statistical Office 2021). This will not change in the foreseeable future. As political relations generally follow economic ones, Mongolia's political importance for Germany is also limited.

Mongolia plays no role in Germany's policy towards Asia. The website of the Federal Foreign Office does not mention Northeast Asia as a priority, and certainly not Mongolia. Right at the forefront in Asia are the »big ones« like China and India and states like Vietnam and Singapore, which are also and foremost important trading partners of Germany (Auswärtiges Amt 2021). 

From Mongolia's perspective, Germany is indeed considered one of the country's important »Third Neighbours« worldwide and the most important in Europe. However, the concept of the Third Neighbour is mainly a wishful thinking and a political mantra that does not correspond with reality. For this basic idea of Mongolia's post-transition history, to balance the geographical-strategic and economic dependence on the two big neighbours with the help of the Third Neighbours, has not worked. The almost total and barely resolvable dependence on China says it all.

Time and again, Mongolia's strategic importance is brought into play. It is important, but not for Germany, but for China and Russia in their not tension-free relationship and to a much more limited extent for the USA. For the USA, South Korea, Japan and the China Sea or the (West)Pacific are central regions, but these are far away from Mongolia. Germany has neither the (military) means of power nor the interest to compete with the real players in Northeast Asia or to steer the development, and certainly not to possibly get in China's way. German interests in Mongolia are not so pronounced as to justify spendings of hundred of millions euros as development aid. A »normal« benevolent diplomatic relationship and political support that costs nothing are sufficient from Germany's point of view.

4. Development cooperation with Mongolia began in the early 1990s when Germany supplied goods to help in immediate emergency situations and was then systematized on the basis of the 1992 Development Cooperation Agreement. From 2011 onwards, it focused on the areas of energy efficiency, biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable raw materials management. 

With these areas, the BMZ took up mega trends that fitted into the domestic German and also international political landscape and can, of course, always be justified in detail. The only question is to what extent these priorities really corresponded to the interests of the Mongolian population. It is also obvious that all kinds of activities can be subsumed under such broadly defined thematic fields and »successes« can always be postulated, but are hardly verifiable. In other words, the priorities of DC were set within the framework of the internationally prevailing mega trends and not in accordance with the real interests of the population and the socio-economic situation. Here are some examples.

Energy efficiency: As long as the price of electricity in Mongolia is kept artificially low for political reasons, there is no incentive for either state or private consumers to save energy. In addition, energy-saving measures in old buildings are expensive and neither private individuals nor central government or municipal institutions have enough money or want to use it for such measures. As ambassador I offered the energy-saving houses built by Germany as reference projects in Ulan Bator like sour beer. The administration of the capital, where almost half of the total population lives, wanted nothing to do with it. In the new properties that have been built in Ulan Bator for a few years now, however, insulation is standard practice, as anyone can see for themselves by passing the construction sites. There is a commercial interest here in saving energy and offering state of the art properties, and this interest does not need to be mediated by DC. 

One of the most significant and effective energy efficiency measures (probably the only one which can truly be verified) was the rehabilitation of the coal-fired power plants in Choibalsan and Darkhan in the years from 1998 onwards. However, the rehabilitation of the Darkhan power plant was not completed in 2018, but was rejected on the grounds that no more coal-fired power plants will be supported under federal DC because of their environmentally harmful impacts. This is despite the fact that Mongolia is dependent on coal-fired power plants for the foreseeable future and cannot easily switch to renewable energies. So here a project was dropped for ideological reasons (mega trends) with the result that once completed, the power plant will continue to operate with outdated or less efficient foreign (probably Chinese) technology and disregard strict environmental and energy-saving standards, thus thwarting German global climate efforts.

Biodiversity: The threat to biodiversity in Mongolia is primarily an expression of poverty, lack of job opportunities and lack of diversification of the economy and thus of a misguided Mongolian economic policy. Of course, it is also a result of climate change, especially the desertification and temperature increase typical of Mongolia. After the fall of communism, Mongolia's economy collapsed drastically. From 5 billion US dollars in 1989, GDP fell to a staggering 0.9 billion US dollars in 1993, and only after 20 years did it come close to matching the levels of the late 1980s (Statista 2020). Not only the economy collapsed, but also state structures. One of the results, for example, was the threat to the fragile forests from wild logging, which was often the only way of earning money for the local population, who engaged in overexploitation in the absence of state control. Likewise, wolves were hunted uncontrollably for sale and marmots for food. It should also be remembered that Mongolia is one of the main suppliers of wild falcons to the Arab petro-states. The livestock population grew ceaselessly, almost tripling in relation to the ecologically and economically sound management of socialist times, as the government is allowing animal populations to grow unchecked. Goats in particular, whose numbers grew inexorably because of their cashmere wool, contribute to the destruction of the environment and thus of biodiversity. 

In my view, the German priorities missed the real interests of the population. These consist primarily of getting reasonably paid jobs and being able to afford a better life than before. For this, people need well-structured vocational training as well as practice-oriented higher education (universities of applied sciences), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and thus labour must be promoted, and the economy must be diversified to avoid the »raw material curse« or the »Dutch disease«. In this respect, focal points with vocational and university training, the creation of a middle class and diversification of the economy would have made more sense for the further development of the country and as key points of DC. Another focus should have been on strengthening state institutions and implementing laws and state directives, also and especially on the issue of environmental policy. In this context, the only forward-looking project is the German-Mongolian University of Technology in Nalaikh. However, it did not emerge from German development aid's own considerations, but rather from an impulse by the then President Ts. Elbegdorj, which German Chancellor Merkel took up and supported during her visit in 2011.

The best development leaps are still achieved with private investment on a broad scale and fair trade policies. If the legal framework is appropriately designed and, above all, enforced by the state, ecological and sustainable aspects also come into play. When 30% of the population live below the poverty line, ecology does not play a role, but people want to survive by any means. The question of effectiveness is also influenced by the fact that the Mongolian administration is not very effective and is overburdened at all levels by the mass of DC brought into the country by all kinds of institutions.

5. I do not want to elaborate further on these examples and considerations, but will now turn to what the new reform concept "BMZ 2030" contains in its basic lines and why Mongolia is excluded. The reorganisation relates to direct state cooperation, i.e. that provided by the BMZ and implementing organizations such as GIZ (German Society for International Cooperation), KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau - banking-group promoting international development), BGR (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources) and PTB (National Metrology Institute of Germany). Multinational and non-governmental cooperation, such as that within the UN framework, support for NGOs or the work of political foundations, is not affected.

The number of states with which cooperation will take place in future will be reduced from 85 to 60. Behind this is the understanding that one cannot be active everywhere, but also the concentration on key areas. The aim is to achieve a new quality of cooperation where good governance, respect for human rights and the fight against corruption are essential criteria. For this, the partner must make own contributions, to which the continuation of aid is linked. The core themes are: Peacebuilding, food security, education, sustainable growth, climate and energy, environment and natural resources, and health. Other topics are population development and family planning, sustainable supply chains, digitalization, human and animal health (Global Health/One Health).

The countries comprise three groups:

Bilateral partners: Pursuit of long-term development goals: 

Asia: Afghanistan (LDC - »least developed countries«), Bangladesh (LDC), Cambodia (LDC), Pakistan, Uzbekistan.

Americas: Ecuador, Colombia.

Middle East: Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories.

Africa: Algeria, Benin (LDC), Burkina Faso (LDC), Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi (LDC), Madagascar (LDC), Mali (LDC), Mauritania (LDC), Mozambique (LDC), Namibia, Niger (LDC), Nigeria, Rwanda (LDC), Tanzania (LDC), Togo (LDC), Uganda (LDC).

Of which reform partnerships with particularly reform-oriented countries: Ethiopia (LDC), Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal (LDC), Tunisia.

Of which Transformation Partnerships: support for political and economic transformation in the EU neighbourhood: Albania, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine.

Global partners: strategically important countries for solving global future issues and protecting global goods such as climate and environmental protection: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, China.

Nexus and peace partners: combating the structural causes of conflict, flight and violence and securing peace: Iraq, Yemen (LDC), DR Congo (LDC), Libya, Somalia (LDC), Sudan (LDC), South Sudan (LDC), Syria, Chad (LDC), Central African Republic (LDC).

A statistical analysis provides interesting insights.

Africa is the continent of focus with 33 countries, i.e. slightly more than 50%. Of the 33 countries, 25 = 75% are least developed countries, also called »4th world«, i.e. countries that need the most support. In general, Africa has become the focus of German DC in recent years: »Marshall Plan« with Africa (BMZ 2017). Besides the humanitarian motto: »We leave no one behind« (BMZ 2017: 6), refugee movements from Africa to the EU play a prominent role. The BMZ expresses this almost poetically: »Africa's youth must have a future in Africa.« (BMZ 2017: 3). In this context, it is fitting that the countries that are central to the refugee movements, whether as countries of origin or transit, are almost all LDCs, such as Mali and Mauritania. 

In addition to disadvantageous living conditions and a lack of future prospects, armed conflicts are of course causes of flight or, as in the case of Libya, hinder the control of migration movements. Cooperation with nexus and peace partners, most of which are in Africa, should eliminate structural causes here. Since Germany and the international community do not want to intervene militarily in these states, development cooperation and political efforts are the only realistic alternatives, even if the internal conflicts make work on the ground difficult and put successes at risk. The focus on Africa is therefore in Germany's own interest, as it is well known that the majority of refugees and migrants are aiming for Germany as a destination country. 

6. If, as shown above, according to the BMZ, good governance, respect for human rights and the fight against corruption are essential criteria for the granting of development aid, one can criticize the selection of individual countries with good reason. The BMZ does not state the reasons for which, for example, the selected partner countries were put on the list. But one can of course trace the motives with a certain plausibility, which leads to the fact that justifications given by the BMZ sometimes appear dubious. In other words, one shies away, probably out of political expediency, from clearly stating the true motives. These motives are foremost to combat uncontrolled migration to the EU/Germany, which in my view is necessary anyway.

These contradictions, some of which I will point out, show that a value-driven foreign policy has its limits and that we have not completely lost sight of realpolitik.

Having lived in Morocco from 2013-16, for example, for me it’s hard to understand why this country is considered »particularly willing to reform«. The hidden but real German goal here is to stem migration movements from the country itself or through it to Europe in the long term. It is enough to see the surroundings of the Spanish exclave of Ceuta on the Moroccan side, where refugees from Black Africa gather, waiting for an opportunity to enter into Europe illegally.

Tunisia, for example, is included as the state that at least partially fulfills the expectations of the »Arab Spring«, which were exaggerated in Europe at the time and disappointed all along the line, and that one wants to stabilize precisely the countries bordering the Mediterranean with a view to migration to Europe. Egypt is really not a prime example of democratic development and respect for human rights, but ranks prominently as bilateral partner.

A serious flaw in the African country table is that practically all LDCs are particularly corrupt countries that are in the worst third of the CDI (Corruption Perceptions Index). South Sudan, for example, is in last place at 179, Congo has 170, Uganda 142 and so on. Corruption is one of the main causes of the ineffectiveness of DC. In states with internal armed conflicts like Syria, Yemen and Libya, corruption is inevitable. In all these cases, one will have to accept a considerable »drain« of funds and other impediments, which calls the efforts themselves into question. Moreover, these states are authoritarian, disregard human rights and lack good governance, as in Nigeria as a prominent example. This also applies to Uzbekistan

With regard to the transformation partnerships, the interests are clear. The Western Balkans are in the EU's focus with a view to future EU membership, be it sooner or later. With regard to Albania and Northern Macedonia, it has been decided to start accession negotiations, and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Kosovo are considered potential accession candidates (European Commission 2020). Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are particular cases where the prospect of accession is unrealistic in the foreseeable future because of Russian interests there. 

It is no coincidence that the global partners are among Germany's most important foreign trade partners outside the EU in terms of turnover, and of course China, as the number one, is the most important country (India 23rd, Brazil 31st, Mexico 19th, Vietnam 13th, South Africa 29th, Indonesia 46th). These countries are of particular importance not only as foreign trade partners, but also due to their economic activity and natural conditions such as tropical forests (e.g. Brazil, Indonesia) in terms of climate change, population growth and globalization. By comparison, Mongolia as a trading partner ranks 121st in the list with a gigantic gap in value (Federal Statistical Office 2021).

7. The BMZ explains Mongolia's exclusion from bilateral aid as follows: »Some countries have fortunately developed in recent years in such a way that they no longer need our direct government support. For example, Costa Rica and Mongolia." (BMZ 2021: 6). Given what Mongolia has achieved in terms of development, this justification can only be described as funny. Neither in the field of energy efficiency nor in resource management and also not in biodiversity has any resounding progress been made, not to mention good governance and the fight against corruption. There is another strange twist: In 2017, it was officially stated that »Mongolia has a unique biological diversity (biodiversity) of global importance." (italics by author) (German Embassy 2017: 38). Apparently, this no longer applies after the reorganisation of DC.

In summary: Mongolia no longer has a place in the new framework of German DC, where foreign policy interests have been rebalanced and aligned with some of the key challenges for Germany. These challenges lie specifically in Africa and the Middle East (conflict areas, migration movements), in the Western Balkans with the EU accession perspective for the states there, and they are cross-cutting issues that concern global problems such as climate and environmental protection and where the focus is on the states important for this in terms of economic activity and/or ecosystems and which are also prominent non-European trading partners of Germany. Mongolia plays no role in any of these areas.


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