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Ohio, Serbia enter into military partnership

The president of the Republic of Serbia visited Columbus today. President Boris Tadic met with Governor Bob Taft and National Guard officials to announce a partnership between the Ohio National Guard and Serbian armed forces.

Governor Taft and President Tadic stood together as the Ohio National Guard band played the Serbian national anthem. They appeared at the Guard center in northwest Columbus to announce a partnership between Ohio and Serbia. The program is part of a nationwide effort to link Guard troops with armed forces of emerging democracices in Eastern Europe. Governor Taft says an undetermined number of Ohio troops will go to Serbia to train their forces in various tasks.

(They will train in) emergency preparedness and disaster response. It could be military education, officer development, leadership development, educational improvement and educational exchanges, Taft says. There could economic development initiatives as well. The range of choices for the partnership activities is broad.

Taft says he also expects some Serbian forces to travel to Ohio. President Tadic says he expects the partnership to help the economy of Serbia.

Right now Serbia is a stable country, a stable democracy, Tadic says. We are growing our economy between five and six percent a year. We have a macro-economic stability in Serbia. At the same time, you have to under the United States is the largest investor in Serbia.

Tadic says this is Serbia's first partnership with U.S. forces since declaring independence from Montenegro earlier this year.

Funding for the program will come from the Department of Defense. Ohio already has a similar partnership with Hungary.