Montenegro, Maine formalize State Partnership Program ties

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. John Baldacci, left, and Maine National Guard Army Maj. Gen. Bill Libby welcome Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic to the Maine State House May 2. The meeting in Augusta came one day after the formal Status of Forces Agreement between the two nations in Washington, D.C. Montenegrin officials then traveled to Maine’s capital city for the initial meeting between the two entities in the partnership state.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A delegation from Montenegro led by President Filip Vujanovic made its first visit to the Maine State House May 2 under the auspice of the National Guard's State Partnership Program.

Vujanovic met with several National Guard and government officials including Gov. John Baldacci and Army Maj. Gen. John Libby, Maine National Guard Adjutant General.

During a press conference to formally inform the public on the new state partnership between Maine and Montenegro, Baldacci said he and his cabinet will make a visit to Montenegro in the near future.

The meeting in Augusta came one day after the formal Status of Forces Agreement between the two nations in Washington, D.C. Montenegrin officials then traveled to Maine's capital city for the initial meeting between the two entities in the partnership state.

The Maine-Montenegro partnership is the newest within U.S. European Command's State Partnership Program area of responsibility. There are currently 26 established partnerships within the program. Montenegro, formerly a part of Serbia, is the world's newest country, having voted for independence on May 21, 2006.

The National Guard State Partnership Program aligns selected states with nations around the world in an effort to assist those nations in both civilian and military fields. As part of the State Partnership Program, the Maine National Guard will advise Montenegro's military on its transition to an all-volunteer professional force. The partnership is also likely to cover the training of noncommissioned officers, emergency management, search and rescue operations, language training and coastal defense.

Last December, a delegation from the Maine National Guard including Libby visited Montenegro to initiate the partnership. The announcement took place in Montenegro's capital city of Podgorica and included National Guard Bureau, Maine National Guard and Montenegrin military officials. Libby is currently traveling in Croatia with Montenegrin officials where details of the partnership will be finalized.

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