By a Newsnet reporter
A leading Danish foreign affairs politician has confirmed that he believes that Scotland would be invited “immediately” to be a member of NATO following independence, and that the SNP’s policy of ridding Scotland of Trident nuclear weapons would have “absolutely no impact” on that invitation.
John Dyrby Paulsen also said that membership of the EU following independence could be as “fast as you want to do it – it could be very fast”.
In an interview for the Press and Journal newspaper Mr Paulsen, the Foreign affairs and Defence spokesperson for the ruling Social Democratic party of Denmark and Chairman of a NATO parliamentary committee, dismissed claims from anti-independence campaigners that Scotland would have to apply for membership of NATO.
According to the Danish official, an independent Scotland would be welcomed without question because it has, “been a part of NATO since the 1940s and it would be natural for Scotland to be part of it after independence”.
On the EU Mr Paulsen suggested that full EU membership could easily be achieved in the period between a Yes vote in 2014 and independence in 2016 saying that is “absolutely doable”.
Mr Paulsen gave the interview as SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson MP Angus Robertson highlighted the party’s commitment to enhanced northern European security and regional co-operation following an invitation to speak at Copenhagen University.
Commenting, Mr Robertson, who was in Copenhagen speaking on ‘The Geopolitics of an independent Scotland’ at Copenhagen University, said:
“John Dyrby Paulsen has spoken as a leading authority on NATO and EU matters and from a position of clarity and logic, underlining that of course Scotland would be welcomed in both organisations. He also backs our view that removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland would in no way jeapordise that membership, as it would put Scotland in the same position as the vast majority of NATO member states who will not host nuclear weapons.”
The SNP’s policy on nuclear weapons coupled with its pro-NATO stance was last week criticised by BBC Scotland presenter Gary Robertson who called country’s who adopted such a stance “hypocrites”. However, the comments from Mr Paulsen will be seen as endorsement of the SNP, Denmark is also non-nuclear hosting member of NATO.
Commenting on Paulsen’s comments on EU membership, Mr Robertson added
“His view on the EU is equally as illuminating. He is absolutely clear as a senior Danish politician with experience in the processes of the EU that there would be no problem at all in Scotland’s membership in our own right to coincide with independence in 2016, after a Yes vote in 2014.
“His views are echoed by his colleague Danish Liberal MP Sofie Carsten Neilsen a member of the influential European affairs committee. She said ‘It would be really really bad if Scotland were left out. I am sure if you did want to join, as an independent country, it would probably be quick and effective … I am sure the EU would want to have you.’
“These views put the lie to many of the scare stories put around by people who know little and care less about these matters, and simply want to scare Scots about the most important opportunity for Scotland in their lives. An independent Scotland will be welcomed into these organisations.”
The SNP is highlighting its commitment to enhanced northern European security and regional cooperation on a visit to Denmark. Westminster SNP Leader Angus Robertson MP has been invited to speak at Copenhagen University and is meeting with senior defence and security experts in the Nordic nation.
With a similar population size to Scotland Denmark maintains capable conventional defence forces with a strong maritime focus. Denmark currently spend £2.6bn annually on defence, which is almost exactly the same amount the SNP is planning to spend in Scotland after independence.