October 9, 2015
Mongolia’s president Elbegdorj has bestowed upon me Mongolia’s Medal of Friendship “in recognition of valuable contribution in the promotion of friendly relations and cooperation between Mongolia and the Kingdom of Denmark.” The ceremony took place in Asia House in Copenhagen with me attending via skype.
Present in Copenhagen were Mongolian and Danish friends, Crown Prince Frederik amongst them.
I thanked along these lines:
Your Royal Highness, Your excellency Ambassador Zorig Altai, Ladies and gentlemen, Friends!
I am deeply honoured and utterly delighted.
I lost my heart to Mongolia in 1981 when travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Beijing. Travel and other restrictions in those days made it impossible for me to return for another 10 years, but since then I have visited Mongolia 10 times or more.
I have travelled far and wide – often in the good company of Bulgan, and others present in Asia House today, Marianne & Søren Haslund–C, Else, Karsten & Munkh Fogde – and not least Nina Juhlin and Søren Zeuth, to name but a few; the latter my equal partners in producing our beautiful book.
I have enjoyed the vastness of Mongolia, the beauty, the endless hospitality and the many friends I have met along the way.
I have always considered myself a friend of Mongolia and the Mongolians. This medal makes me feel that the feeling is mutual.
25 years of democracy is truly something to celebrate. I have followed developments in Mongolia since the democratic revolution – I saw the frightened Soviet soldiers as they left their posting in Mongolia in the early nineties to return to the 15 countries that their former Motherland had atomised into after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
And last week, huge democratic achievements later, I watched President Elbegdorj, in bright blue national dress, speaking here at the UN General Assembly – a staunch believer in and defender of human rights, nuclear non-proliferation and good neighbourliness. He spoke urgently of the challenges Mongolia faces and he radiated sincere commitment to meet and defeat them.
To be bestowed a medal by your magnificent country fills me with pride.
And I congratulate my fellow medal recipients, Bulgan & Jan …
Thank you ever so much
It was afternoon in Copenhagen, and while they toasted with vodka I toasted with my jasmine tea, it being morning here in NYC