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12:00PM

Maryland Air National Guard Briefed on Estonia

Marju Rink-Abel, president of the Estonian American National Council, provided an overview of Estonia to the Maryland Air National Guard, stationed at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, MD, on February 8, 2015.   Many members are going to Estonia in June to participate in training and exercises, and were interested in learning more about the country before they left. EANC president Marju Rink-Abel addresses the Maryland Air National Guard

Her presentation covered Estonia’s history, major cities, language, culture, government, economy and achievements.   Interest in the topic was high, as there was standing room only in a crowd of over 100. 
Estonia and Maryland have a special relationship that started with the end of the Cold War and as part of the NATO Partnership for Peace program.  In 1993 a section of the American part of this initiative became known as the State Partnership Program (SPP).  As part of SPP, Maryland through its National Guard was assigned a special relationship with Estonia and the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit).
    
The military to military association proved to be so successful that the Republic of Estonia and the State of Maryland have enlarged the scope of their partnership to include civilian to civilian relationships.  These include university-to-university programs and Sister City relationships (including Talllinn-Annapolis, Tartu-Salisbury, and Narva-Bel Air).  In 2009, a Sister State agreement between Harju County in Estonia and the State of Maryland was signed, leading to further cultural and educational exchanges.

Currently, the Maryland Estonia Exchange Council (MEEC) helps to coordinate the civilian activity.  Col. Milton Davis (ret.), is Executive Director of MEEC, Dr. Barbara Tower is vice-president, and Mrs. Elizabeth Davis is secretary.  Estonian Americans who have been active in MEEC activities include Chairman Toivo Tagamets, Karl Altau, and Erik Puskar.