Mongolian "Third Neighbor" Foreign Policy Concept: History, Features and Prospects

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: PhD student
Affiliation: MGIMO University
Address: 76, Vernadskogo Av., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation
Journal nameProblemy Dalnego Vostoka
EditionIssue 1

This article studies the history and features of the "third neighbor" concept, which has determined Mongolia's foreign policy since the 1990s, as well as the prospects for its change at the present stage. The author describes the circumstances of this concept’s emergence and the reasons for its adoption by the Mongolian leadership, then analyzes its characteristic features and its differences from the approaches of other "small states" pursuing foreign policy on the basis of the “multi-vector” principle. Among other things, the factors considered include the geopolitical situation in the region of Northeast Asia, the geographical position of Mongolia, its historical experience of being dominated by neighboring powers, the problems of its economy and the local elite’s desire to ensure the dominance of Western values in the country’s political life after 1990. The author proceeds to study the motives and approaches of the "third neighbor" states towards partnership with Mongolia, noting the transition from the preferential provision of humanitarian aid at the initial stage to the implementation of mutually beneficial projects since the early 2000s. Special attention is given to the gradually emerging differences between the interests and priorities of Western and Eastern countries in Mongolia. This is followed by an analysis of the prospects for the "third neighbor" concept and the challenges it faces, associated, in particular, with the ever-escalating confrontation between the collective West and Mongolia's closest neighbors — Russia and China. The author comes to the conclusion that third countries — primarily the United States —might, under certain conditions, try to force the Mongolians to choose between their main partners, just as it happened with certain other states close to Russia.

KeywordsMongolia, the “third neighbor” concept, foreign policy, cooperation, balance, the West, “multi-pillared” foreign policy
Publication date16.02.2022
Number of characters40254
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