Ambassador from Mongolia: Who Is Bulgaa Altangerel?
The remote central Asian nation of Mongolia—sandwiched between big powers Russia and China—appointed a new ambassador to the U.S. in December 2012. Dr. Bulgaa Altangerel presented his credentials to President Obama on January 14, 2013, succeeding Bekhbat Khasbazar, who had served since April 2008.
Born October 25, 1955, in Khovd Province, Mongolia, Altangerel was handpicked at an early age by the Mongolian Foreign Ministry to receive a university education and eventually work for it. He earned a Master's degree in International Law at the Moscow Institute of International Relations in 1979, a Master's degree in Political Science at the Moscow Institute of Political Science in 1990, and a PhD in International Law at Ukraine's Kiev National Taras Shevchenko University in 2003.
In 1992, he was a visiting fellow for International Law and International Public Affairs at Columbia University, and from 1993 to 1997 he served as chair of the International Law Department at the Mongolian National University.
Upon joining the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1979, Altangerel had two years of desk work before taking a four-year stint at the Mongolian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 1981 to 1985, which were some of the worst years of fighting between the Soviet-backed government of Babrak Karmal and the U.S.-backed rebels who eventually won and established the Taliban regime.
Altangerel served the next twelve years based in Ulan Bator, first at the Foreign Ministry as a member of the Inter-Governmental Commission on the inspection of state boundaries between Mongolia and the USSR from 1985 to 1988, then as foreign policy advisor to the Parliament of Mongolia, known as the State Great Hural, from 1990 to 1991, and finally as director of the Foreign Relations Division (later Department) of the Great Hural from 1991 to 1997, when he was also the responsible Secretary of the Mongolian Inter-Parliamentary Group. During Mongolia's transition from Soviet-style rule, Altangerel was involved in re-establishing the country's foreign policy apparatus for the new regime.
In 1997, Altangerel was assigned to his first ambassadorship, to serve as the first-ever Mongolian ambassador to Turkey, resident in Ankara and concurrently accredited to Bulgaria, Lebanon, Romania and Uzbekistan, from 1997 to 2003. He then served as director general for Legal and Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry from 2003 to 2008, and as director of the Law and Treaty Department from 2004 to 2008. He also spent five years (2007-2012) as a member of the board of directors of the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court. From May 2008 to late 2012, Altangerel was ambassador to the United Kingdom, resident in London and concurrently accredited to South Africa, Ireland and Iceland.
Altangerel speaks Russian, English and Spanish. An enthusiastic equestrian, Altangerel owns a dozen horses and even attended Royal Ascot while posted to London.
He and his wife, Erdenee Chuluuntsetseg, have three daughters.
Official Biography (pdf)
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