Maryland National Guard to Join Mission, Strengthen State Partnership with Estonia
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford is leading a trade and diplomatic mission to Europe that kicks off today with stops in France, Belgium, and Estonia. In Estonia, Lt. Governor Rutherford will be joined by Major General Linda Singh, the Adjutant General of Maryland, and commanders with the Maryland National Guard, which has had a long-standing state partnership with the country. While in Estonia, the delegation will meet with government officials and private sector companies to learn about the country’s approach to cybersecurity, as well as its efforts to address drug abuse and opioid overdoses. Throughout the mission, the Lt. Governor and representatives from the Maryland Department of Commerce will also meet with numerous European companies to promote Maryland as an ideal U.S. location for trade and investment.
“This mission will further strengthen Maryland’s partnerships with France and Belgium, and also give us the opportunity to learn best practices from our Estonian partners on two key issues for Maryland – cybersecurity and drug and opioid abuse,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “Maryland is ‘Open for Business’ and I look forward taking this message directly to European companies to encourage them to explore Maryland as their gateway to the U.S. market.”
In France, Lt. Governor Rutherford is traveling to Saint Omer in the Hauts-de-France region where he will join Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and attend the official reopening of the newly restored Jesuits Chapel. The chapel is being dedicated to recognize the 275th anniversary of the arrival of the Carroll family, one of the prominent Maryland colonial families, in Saint Omer. Maryland and Hauts-de-France, formerly Nord Pas de Calais, have maintained a long sister-state relationship, which aims to foster educational, cultural, and business partnerships.
Lt. Governor Rutherford will then travel to Brussels, Belgium for a day of meetings with U.S. Embassy officials, including Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem, as well as meetings with Belgian companies.
While in Estonia, Lt. Governor Rutherford will be joined by the Maryland National Guard, which under the State Partnership Program (SPP) has maintained a 25-year partnership with Estonia. The SPP was launched in Europe as part of the initial outreach by the U.S. toward new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today, Maryland and Estonia collaborate on civil and military cooperation, as well as work to develop mutual trade and investment opportunities, particularly in the cybersecurity sector.
“This is a great opportunity to see firsthand the enduring relationship and commitment that the Maryland National Guard has with Estonia,” said Major General Singh. “The partnership has grown from ongoing security cooperation efforts to cultural exchanges and business opportunities. Last year Maryland supported 23 separate SPP events with Estonia.”
The delegation will meet with a number of Estonian government officials, including Foreign Minister Sven Mikser, Interior Minister Andrew Anvelt, and officials with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, who will give a presentation on Estonia’s e-health services and efforts to combat drug abuse. The delegation will also meet with Mayor Siret Pihelgas of the city of Paide, which has a sister-city relationship with Westminster.
The delegation will also visit the e-Estonia Showroom, an executive briefing center in Tallinn, where officials with the Estonian Information Systems Authority will give a presentation on the country’s cybersecurity approach. Estonia is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on cybersecurity after it was one of the first to face a cyber attack in 2007, which disrupted banks, government operations, and media outlets.
Lt. Governor Rutherford will also meet with a number of Estonian companies, and address two major business organizations, the Estonia Defense Industry Association (EDIA), and the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.