National Guard delegation returns from Macedonia

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(Host) A delegation of military and civilian leaders has returned to Vermont from Macedonia. The Vermont National Guard organized the trip to advise people in the Balkan country on developing their economy.

The 26 delegates in the group represented Vermont’s agriculture, tourism and information technology industries. During the week-long visit, they met with Macedonian farmers and entrepreneurs, and offered advice on improving those businesses. Adjutant General Martha Rainville led the delegation:

(Rainville) “They did a great job meeting their counterparts and spending time with them and talking specifics about some of the things they can do right now, and the some of the longer term objectives that I think hey would all like to stay involved with.”

(Host) Rainville says there’s good reason for the Vermont National Guard to take part in the economic development of Macedonia. With a 40% unemployment rate and a low standard of living, she says a strong economy can help prevent civil unrest. Rainville says the people this group worked with want prosperity:

(Rainville) “To have that, you have to have a stable government. And that is where a military that has been trained to answer to an elected civilian government, and that is trained to provide defense and not offense, is the foundation of the economy of the country.”

(Host) The Vermont National Guard’s relationship with Macedonia began in 1995 as a NATO “Partnership for Peace” program. General Rainville says she expects the Vermont Guard will continue to work closely with the country as it applies for NATO membership in next few years.

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