Stonehaven is in the process of forging a twinning agreement with an unlikely international ally – Athens.
But it’s not the Greek capital which the community has struck a bond with, it’s a namesake city in America’s Deep South.
Athens, Alabama, is known for its Civil War past, rodeo shows and hearty Southern grub rather than the awe-inspiring sights such as the Parthenon associated with its more famous counterpart.
The Stonehaven Twinning Group (STG) believes the transatlantic partnership will lead to an increase in tourism and closer cultural, business and sporting ties between the vastly differing communities.
The Mayor of Athens, Ronnie Marks, described his excitement ahead of the deal being officially agreed to celebrate his city’s 200th anniversary.
He said: “Twinning with Stonehaven and working with others on an international level will showcase our communities, and allow many long-lasting partnerships to form
“I will be delighted to formally announce, on November 18, that the twinning will form part of our bicentenary celebrations and I look forward to meeting the delegation from Stonehaven next year.”
A team from Stonehaven is expected to visit Athens in May or June, while an Alabama contingent will visit the north-east in July.
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The interest from Athens is due in large measure to help of a team from Athens University.
Alabama academics aim to set up exchange opportunities between people from Alabama and Aberdeenshire under the agreement, in the hopes that young people will be inspired to travel to their twin city to learn more about life on the opposite side of the Atlantic.
Earlier this year Stonehaven came to a historic agreement with the Parisian suburb of Acheres.
Stonehaven community stalwart, Phil Mills-Bishop, leads the STG and confirmed that more twinning agreements are likely on the horizon, with towns across Europe being considered for future international relationships.
Mr Mills-Bishop said: “The twinning with Alabama is a fantastic development.
“We are planning to develop relationships with others such as Grosskrotzenburg in Germany and Amarante in Portugal – who have already contacted me.
“Towns in Japan are also being approached.
“Acheres was just the beginning – our main priority is strengthening ties and spreading the word about Stonehaven.”