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NEWS | March 23, 2011

Now it’s 63: National Guard State Partnership Program pairs Iowa, Kosovo

By Courtesy Story

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad; Air Force Brig. Gen. Greg Schwab, assistant adjutant general, Iowa Air National Guard; and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the United States, Avni Spahiu, announced a newly-established partnership between the State of Iowa and the Republic of Kosovo.

The partnership is a result of the selection of Iowa by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Guard Bureau for participation in the Security and Cooperation and State Partnership Programs.

The partnership brings to 63 the number of nations paired with National Guard states.

The programs’ goals are to link National Guard states and territories with partner countries for the purpose of fostering mutual interests and establishing habitual, long-term relationships across all levels of society.

“I am delighted to announce the establishment of a State Partnership Program with the Republic of Kosovo, a great friend to the United States and a place with which our Guardsmen and women are already familiar through service in NATO’s Kosovo force,” Branstad said on Monday.

“The State Partnership Program is a longstanding and important program, which will benefit both our Iowa National Guard and the Kosovo Security Force.”

Evolving from the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s European Command “Joint Contact Team” Program established in 1992, the programs are characterized by bilateral reciprocal relationships between the state and partner country.

The state partner opens doors for its partner country to the full depth and breadth of U.S. capabilities, assisting in the development of democratic institutions and open market economies, as well as generating interagency coordination, cooperation and enduring relationships.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008. In its declaration of independence, Kosovo committed to fulfilling its obligations under the plan established by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, as a fundamental principle of good governance and to welcome a period of international supervision.

The United States formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state on Feb. 18, 2008.

As of November 2010, 72 countries had recognized Kosovo’s independence, including 22 of 27 European Union member states, all of its neighbors (except Serbia), and other states from the Americas, Africa, and Asia.