Maryland’s ties with a region in northern France were strengthened on Wednesday with the signing of a Sister State agreement by Gov. Larry Hogan and Hauts-de-France region president Xavier Bertrand.
The memorandum of understanding was signed at ceremonies that took place both at the French Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C, and the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
At the Washington ceremony, Hogan was accompanied by French Ambassador Philippe Étienne, French Consul General Francois Penguilly and Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith. At the Paris ceremony Bertrand was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Jamie McCourt and St. Omer mayor Francois Decoster. St. Omer is a municipality in the region.
Hauts-de-France was established in 2014 as part of a merger between the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region and Picardy. The establishment of Hauts-de-France necessitated that Maryland updated the 1981 Sister State Agreement it signed with Nord-Pas-de-Calais to include the new region. The agreement is expected to pave the way for scientific and educational exchanges.
Both Hogan and Wobensmith celebrated the agreement on Wednesday.
“I have always believed in the value and importance of looking outside our borders to build strong, productive, and mutually beneficial international partnerships,” Hogan said. “We look forward to continuing to promote that with the people of Hauts-de-France for many years to come.”
“We are very proud of what the Maryland Sister States Program has accomplished over the past six years. All of the international work that brings education, culture, business, health, and environmental exchange to Maryland would not be possible without the dedication of the volunteers, and the State of Maryland is incredibly thankful,” Wobensmith said.
Maryland’s Sister State program encompasses 19 relationships in 17 countries.