P.Khaliun: I believe the relations between two countries will soon reach strategic partnershipThe Mongol Messenger
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. In 1985, former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau visited Mongolia with his children and met with Leader J.Batmunkh. At that time, young diplomat Khaliun Panidjunai worked as an assistant interpreter. We asked senior diplomat and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary P.Khaliun to share his memories of this visit.
-Pierre Trudeau, the former Prime Minister of Canada, traveled to Mongolia with his children and you worked as an interpreter. Can you share us your memories of that time?
-In 1972, I graduated from the Institute of International Relations in Moscow with a degree in French and English and took a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I remember very well that in July 1985, the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Pierre Trudeau, came to Mongolia with his three sons to watch the Naadam Festival and get acquainted with the nomadic culture of Mongolia. That was almost 36 years ago. From the beginning, Mr. Pierre Trudeau seemed to me to be a very warm, kind, and truly simple man. So I guess that is why he is still in my mind. I wondered how he was able to travel with his three children, who were right around their rebellious age.
In July 1985, the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Pierre Trudeau, visited Mongolia with his three sons to watch the Naadam festival and learn about the nomadic culture of Mongolia.
Mr. Pierre Trudeau had been the leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada for more than 15 years, making a historic contribution to the country's development, territorial integrity and independence. Therefore, he is very well-known in Canadian history as a political leader and an internationally renowned figure. It was a great honor for me to interpret the history, customs and beautiful nature of our country to such a famous guest.
At that time, very important foreign guests were accommodated in “Ikh tenger”. On the first day, we accompanied him to introduce Ulaanbaatar city in general, visiting some museums. The Natural History Museum and particularly, the dinosaur exhibits attracted their interests a lot. Then, we visited Gandan Tegchinlen Monastery, watching monks to chant mantras, visiting the library and getting acquainted with ancient and rare books and sutras. Former Khamba Lama of the monastery Gaadan welcomed Mr. Pierre Trudeau warmly and treated the guests with such a refreshing airag. I bet that the treat was very special for the people who tasted it for the first time.
Guests watched the opening and closing ceremonies of the National Naadam at the Central Pavilion of the Stadium.
The guests were invited to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the Naadam Festival in the Central Pavilion of the Stadium with government leaders. It seemed as if the wrestling tournament was really interesting to him, but opposite to the boys. That time horse racing used to take place in Yarmag. The children were very happy to ride a Mongolian horse. The children rode a horse taking turns. Led them by the bridle, I walked them a long way to satisfy their cravings. The older son, Justin, made me a little nervous for speeding up the horse. He was very interested in Mongolian horse and saddles.
On the following day, we took a flight to Dalanzadgad, the capital of Umnugobi aimag. Upon the arrival, we were welcomed by a representative of the aimag’s administration. Then, we visited a nomadic family in the Gobi to get to know more about the life of the Mongols. There are several photos from that time in my album. In my album, I have a photo of Mr. Pierre Trudeau riding a camel with his middle son, Alexander, leading a baby camel. But I remember the eldest son, Justin, who, after his father, had ridden the camel quite boldly and, surprisingly, had walked quite a distance. However, the younger son was afraid of that big camel.
Mr. Pierre Trudeau and his children riding camels in the Mongolian Gobi
After visiting the family and riding camel, we set off to Yol Valley and showed the magnificence of Mongolia’s Gobi to our guests.
- How did Mr. Pierre
Trudeau feel after watching the national festival?
-To simply put, he was very interested in our country. He was truly thrilled to watch Naadam Festival in entirety. He said that our country has a unique and beautiful nature, and its people are hospitable and kind. The children especially enjoyed horse racing. Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary B.Dashtseren accompanied them throughout their visit. I clearly remember Mr. Dashtseren once said during a dinner held in ‘Ikh Tenger’ that the place we are eating is called Bogd Emperor’s Mountain, comparing it to Mount Royal in Canada which is also known as the King’s Mountain.
-It was the time when the relations between our two countries were just at its dawn. Has the relations between the two countries improved after his visit?
-Mongolia and Canada established diplomatic relations in 1973. By 1985, relations between our two countries were already in their 12th year, but no significant progress had been made. At that time, Chairman of the Presidium of the People's Great Hural and General Secretary of the MPRP J.Batmunkh received the guest of honor and exchanged views on opportunities to develop Mongolia-Canada relations.
J.Batmunkh, Chairman of the Presidium of the People’s Great Hural of the People's Republic of Mongolia and Secretary General of the MPRP, received Mr. Pierre Trudeau
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Peace and Friendship Organization of Mongolia, Ambassador N.Luvsanchultem who was well-known and respected among our generation held a meeting with Mr. Pierre Trudeau on behalf the people of Mongolia and talked seriously about further cooperation between the two countries, noting that for the first time, there is a great potential for cooperation in the mining sector.
After Pierre Trudeau's visit to our country, the relations between the two countries gained new impetus. Cooperation has been intensified, especially in the mining sector. And not long after that, our social system shifted into democracy. This has allowed us Mongolians to decide for ourselves how and with whom to develop relations and cooperation. Undoubtedly, all these factors have contributed to the expansion of bilateral relations.
N.Luvsanchultem, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Peace and Friendship Organization of Mongolia, noted in a meeting with Pierre Trudeau that there is a great potential for cooperation in the mining sector.
Mr. Pierre Trudeau was a far-sighted, well-educated and intelligent politician. He treats anyone as a human being. His humanity and tenacity were said to have impressed foreign politicians. For instance, his meeting with Mao Zedong in 1973 lasted much longer than it was scheduled. It is said that Mao Zedong was very impressed by his speech and ended up exceeding the scheduled duration of the meeting.
Everyone knows what America-Cuba relations were like at that time. However, Pierre Trudeau met with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana and they had a very friendly relationship. When Pierre Trudeau passed away in 2000, Fidel Castro came all the way to Canada to pay tribute. From all this, it is clear what kind of personage came to our country.
- Could you talk about the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?
- On November 4, 2015, the eldest son, Mr. Justin Trudeau, became the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada. This is the first time in the history of Canada that the son of a former Prime Minister has succeeded his father as Prime Minister. In addition, there are a number of notable cases in his biography.
- Justin was born in 1971, his younger brother Alexander in 1973, and they were both born on Christmas Day. This is an unusual coincidence, isn’t it?
Also, on Justin's birthday, former US President Richard Nixon came to their home to congratulate the little boy and raised a toast: "For the future Prime Minister of Canada." When they visited Mongolia accompanying his father, Justin was 14 years old, his younger brother Alexander was 12 years old, and the youngest son Michelle was 10 years old, I suppose.
In October 2019, Justin Trudeau was re-elected as the Prime Minister of Canada. Do you think he still remembers how his trip to Mongolia with his father and siblings was like?
In the 2019 parliamentary elections, the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, won themselves a new term and he became the Prime Minister of Canada again. It is the result of his hard work and wise policies, as well as the support of the Canadian people.
I believe Mongolia-Canada relations can be more developed during the years when Mr. Justin Trudeau serves as Prime Minister. Because he visited Mongolia as a child. I have no doubt that those days are bright in his memories. I truly believe that he sees boundless steppes of Mongolia, children on horseback, the vast Gobi with clear blue skies and his loving father riding a camel when he hears the name Mongolia.
There are many similarities between our two countries. There are many similarities between our two countries, starting from geography, seasonality to minerals, a lot to talk about. Canada has always been an important third neighbor to our country. It is possible that the relations between our two countries will reach a higher level in the future. There is no doubt that there are many untapped opportunities in the development of cooperation in the interests of both sides. Therefore, I believe that the relationship between the two countries will soon reach the level of a strategic partnership.
A photo of Mr. Pierre Trudeau and P.Khaliun, a young diplomat who worked as an interpreter, taken in Yol Valley.
I hope he would pay another visit to Mongolia with his family and retrieve his memories of experiencing Mongolia with his father and siblings as a child.
Finally, I would like to say that your Mongolian brother has the willing and time to interpret and accompany you when you visit Mongolia again.