IN ORDER to have a diplomatic service, you have got to have diplomatic relations, and we have to start by asking how many of the 193 members of the United Nations has relations with Scotland, writes Trevor Salmon.
As basic as it sounds, if you do want an embassy, you obviously need to have land and to buy a building in a foreign location – with all the cost and planning this would require. A critical issue would be that of security and of having a secure environment to run an embassy. There would be a need for armed guards, for example, in countries like Egypt.
There’s also the importance of ensuring Scotland has ambassadors and diplomats with some status. Where would these people come from and how would an independent Scotland attract them? There could be real difficulties in attempting to get British diplomats with 20 years experience in the service to just leave and agree to represent Scotland overseas.
There are also questions about the cost of embassies, which I believe could be at least £1 million for each one.
Another question is in which countries would Scotland be represented – would it have an embassy in Latin America and the Caribbean? Smaller states tend to have about 25 to 30 embassies, so there would be the issue facing Scotland of where would it chose to have its embassies. Would these be in nations in northern Europe or would they be in places where Scotland has a strong whisky market for example?
• Trevor Salmon is an emeritus professor in international relations at Aberdeen University.