The European Free Trade Association has confirmed Alex Salmond held talks with representatives to explore post-Brexit options for Scotland.
Acting independently of the Scottish Government, Mr Salmond travelled to Geneva to meet with the heads of Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to discuss the possibility of Scotland joining the association after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), allows Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to operate within the European Economic Area (EEA) while being outside of the EU.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has recently taken part in discussions with Icelandic ministers, is keen to preserve Scotland’s access to the single market and has already intimated that a Norway-style deal could be the preferred choice once Article 50 is triggered.
Mr Salmond’s Geneva talks have been described as “informal”, and appear to have been arranged as an attempt to gauge reaction from EFTA officials about Scotland’s potential inclusion.
Speaking to the Scottish Sun, Mr Salmond said: “The four members of EFTA are all in the world’s top 10 countries for wealth per head of population.
“They’re all smaller nations like us. EFTA has been a profound success in economic terms.
He continued: “There’s been a great deal of interest and warmth towards Scotland as a future partner from everyone we’ve met.
“It’s a possibility, so you never know”.
EFTA ministers have not ruled out a special trade alliance with Scotland, but have conceded that it would not be possible under current rules.
First Minister Sturgeon had previously been sceptical of pursuing the Norway model, pointing out that EEA members outside of the EU are left out of decision-making and this would not be in Scotland’s best interests.
EFTA was founded by the Stockholm Convention in 1960 to encourage free trade and economic growth between participating European nations. The United Kingdom was a founding member and left in 1973 after joining the European Union.