Relationship with the state of Maine

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Montenegro is a member of the National Guard State Partnership Program with the State of Maine. The Maine-Montenegro alliance was made possible by a Status of Forces agreement Mr. Vujanovic signed with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2007. The agreement makes it possible for the Maine National Guard and Montenegro's armed forces to conduct mutual military exercises, to hold regular exchanges and to engage in other forms of cooperation.

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Maine is the northernmost portion of New England and is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States. It is known for its scenery—its jagged, mostly rocky coastline; its low, rolling mountains; and its heavily forested interior — as well as for its seafood cuisine, especially lobsters and clams. Tourism and outdoor recreation play a major and increasingly important role in Maine's economy. The state is a popular destination for sport hunting, sport fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, boating, camping and hiking. Maine’s port also plays a key role in national transportation.

Maine has the important role of conducting military-to-military operations with Montenegro’s military through the National Guard State Partnership Program, and this relationship is developing into business-to-business awareness between businesses in Maine and Montenegro.

Major General Libby:
I’m Adjutant General, Major General Bill Libby of the Maine National Guard, and Maine’s relationship with the country of Montenegro is an outgrowth of the State Partnership Program between the National Guard Bureau and what they refer to as “emerging democracies”. Frankly this program began maybe 15 – 18 years ago as the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union fell apart, and it was an opportunity to link State National Guard organizations with emerging democracies and demonstrate to former militaries of the Warsaw Pact what militaries that work for and were subservient to civilian authorities look like and acted like. That is our primary role in Montenegro is to teach an Army that has not worked for civil authorities before what an Army that does work for civil authorities looks like and how they act.

The longer term goals involved preparing them for peacekeeping operations. The government of Montenegro has indicated a willingness to be involved in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. We are looking at an opportunity – in fact we are processing that opportunity right now with the necessary American officials – to train their first peacekeeping operation which will go to Afghanistan in hopefully in the next 12 – 18 months. We are looking at some civilian-to-civilian opportunities; the governor of the State of Maine is scheduled to make a trip to Montenegro in July and we are looking at the opportunity to bring over some business leaders with us, and specifically in coordination with the Embassy and the government of Montenegro they have asked us to look at tourism. They have asked us to look at economic development and they have asked us to look at a relationship between the University of Montenegro and the University of Maine as it relates to possibly exchanging students and exchanging faculty. So there are some very interesting short term and long term opportunities before us at this point.