H.E. Mr. Od Och, Ambassador of Mongolia, spouse Mrs. Tsolmon Jadamba and Ms. Maralgua Od, Ambassador’s daughter with members of the Khan Bogd ensemble.
By Sheila Turabaz.
Last November’s Diplomats Meet and Greet was centered around Mongolian culture in all its splendor.
Organized by the Embassy of Mongolia in Brussels, Diplomat Magazine and the Diplomatic Card at the Carlton Ambassador Hotel, guests experienced enchanting Mongolia through live music performances and fantastic food.
Guests were entertained with traditional Mongolian music, played by the Khan Bogd music ensemble, dressed in traditional Mongolian “deel” clothing . The traditional folk music of Mongolia has a rich background; tradition that goes back many centuries and is influenced by various tribes. Musical ensembles performed during ritual ceremonies and various celebrations, for example in the “ger” (Mongolian tent).
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The “morin khuur” (horse-head fiddle) is considered to be most important traditional Mongolian instrument, also recognized by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The ensemble’s repertoire consists of khöömij (throat singing) and magtaal (praise songs).
As usual, and introduction to the national cuisine is an integral part of every Diplomats Meet and Greet.
The chefs of Modern Nomads — one of the biggest chain of restaurants in Mongolia — were invited to prepare their best authentic Mongolian dishes, such as the “khorkhog”, a Mongolian barbecue dish cooked inside of a container which contains hot stones and water and “khuushuur”, a fried meat pastry. Our taste buds were also pleasantly surprised with a cocktail of Mongolian “Chinggis Khan” vodka and seabuckthorn juice.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Mongolia. In his welcome speech, H.E. Ambassador Mr. Od Och expressed his gratitude for the development assistance provided by the Dutch government during Mongolia’s transitional period to an open market economy and for supporting the reintroduction of “Przewalski” horses — a rare and endangered wild horse — (which were in danger of total extinction) thanks to a re-introduction and breeding program for Przewalski horses in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, the Netherlands is the second largest investor in Mongolia and close ties exist between the two countries in the field of education and tourism, — especially in recent years — as tourism in Mongolia grows in popularity.
Mr. Peter Potman, Director of the Asia-Pacific Department at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs also followed with a speech, in which he mentioned significant moments of “fruitful cooperation” in the 45 years of bilateral relations between Mongolia and the Netherlands. One of these moments was a visit by former Minister of Finance Gerrit Zalm to Mongolia.
The Netherlands played an important role supporting Mongolia to join the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in 2006. This turned out to be successful: the ERBD is currently considered to be the largest foreign investor in Mongolia, supporting, among other things, private sector companies and banks in the field of diversification, sustainable growth and infrastructure.
This Mongolian themed Diplomats Meet and Greet certainly succeeded in enticing guests to visit the country, with its (as described by the ambassador) “beautiful natural features, (…) wide variety of untouched landscapes and nomadic way of life and culture”.