EU would welcome Scotland, says Slovakia’s former Foreign Minister

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   By a Newsnet reporter

Eduard Kukan, who was formerly Slovakia’s Foreign Minister and now represents his country as an MEP, has said that Scotland would be welcomed by the EU as an independent state, and added that he believed most existing EU members shared the same view.

Mr Kukan made the remarks on Thursday during an interview with Scotland’s Community Radio, a network of local radio channels, the interview was aired on Friday.

The Slovak politician said that he personally would welcome an independent Scotland into the European family of nations, and added that Scotland would enrich the EU. 

Mr Kukan said:

“If the people of Scotland decide so, I would definitely welcome it …  I think that, if it is the case there is an independent Scotland, it would be an enrichment to the European family and to the European Union.

“I am judging by Slovakia, we are a small country. I think the European family, the EU should consist of many people’s nations, because they can make it more colourful, more cultural, more interesting, more exciting.”

Mr Kukan also spoke of the positive image that most Europeans have of Scotland, saying:

“Everybody knows Scotland. Everywhere in the world they know who you are, how you are behaving, very nice people; so I think it would definitely be good for Europe if we had another member but as I said it fully depends on the decision of your people.”

Although the Slovak MEP said he was certain that a large majority of EU members would welcome an independent Scotland, he acknowledged that there may be a measure of opposition from certain quarters, although he added that Scotland should not be discouraged by this, saying:

“I am sure the overwhelming majority (of EU members) would welcome this new country and new state so don’t feel discouraged by the idea or imagining that there will be some people working against that.”

Mr Kukan has a long career in international politics and diplomacy.  He served as a diplomat for the former Czechoslovakia in a number of international postings, and later became the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations.   Following Slovakian independence he became Slovakia’s permanent representative to the UN, and later served as Foreign Minister for a period in 1994, and again between 1998 and 2006.  He has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009.

Although some anti-independence campaigners have claimed that Spain may seek to veto Scottish membership of the EU in order not to encourage the Catalans in their campaign for independence, earlier this week the Spanish Foreign Minister José García-Margallo stressed the constitutional differences between Scotland and Catalonia. 

Mr García-Margallo said in an interview this week that Scottish accession to the EU would encounter fewer obstacles than the accession of an independent Catalonia.  Previously Mr García-Margallo has stated that if Scotland becomes independent following a legally recognised and constitutional process, as is foreseen in the Edinburgh Agreement between Holyrood and Westminster, Spain would have no grounds for objection.

Earlier this year John Bruton, the former Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, said in an interview with the BBC that he believed the Scottish Government’s proposed timetable for the accession to the EU of an independent Scotland was perfectly reasonable.  The Scottish Government has argued that Scotland would be able to negotiate the terms of its entry to the EU as an independent state in the 18 months between a Yes vote in the referendum and Scotland’s formal declaration of independence.

Welcoming Mr Kukan’s intervention, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, said:

“These are extremely welcome comments from not just a sitting MEP but a former Foreign Minister of an EU Member State, which tell the truth about Scotland and the opportunities of independence.

“The EU is no stranger to dealing with new constitutional situations, and will adopt a common-sense approach for Scotland to continue in membership. If Scotland votes Yes, we will receive an extremely warm welcome to the community of nations.

“Mr Kukan – who has spent his whole career working in foreign affairs – rightly points out that the European Union would welcome the many great contributions an independent Scotland can bring to the table.

“The real threat to Scotland’s place in Europe is the move by Westminster towards isolation from the EU and the single market of half a billion people. As Scotland looks to take our seat at the top table in Europe with independence, the Tory-led UK Government is fast scurrying towards the exit door.”