Cumberland Times-News

June 23, 2013

Vilijandi

Queen City now has a sister in Estonia


Cumberland Times-News

— Cumberland and Viljiandi, in Estonia, recently adopted each other as sister cities.

Some people may ask, “What’s the big deal?” but we think it’s a good thing, for a variety of reasons.

One of them is that it’s always beneficial to make new friends, particularly when they once were at least potential enemies. Estonia — which is a democratic parliamentary republic and a highly developed country — was a part of the former Soviet Union.

Several of Maryland’s towns and cities have sister cities in Estonia, including Annapolis, Havre deGrace, Grantsville, McHenry, Oakland, Ocean City, Salisbury and Westminster. The state of Maryland considers Estonia one of its sister states.

All that came about as the result of a military program established in Estonia by the Maryland National Guard in 1993, after Estonia gained its independence from the USSR.

Sister city relationships generally benefit both parties, and there are hundreds across America. The degree to which they are practiced varies — as it does with human families.

 The benefits may be numerous. Representatives of sister cities can work together on cultural, governmental or economic matters, or just visit each other on a social basis now and then.

Estonia ranks high in term of individual income, civil liberties, education and freedom in general.

Sounds to us like a good friend to have.