An independent Scotland would have to build alliances in Europe to promote its policies or it will find it difficult to make an impact, according to a former Slovakian foreign minister.
• Scotland has been warned it must build alliances in Europe if it is to thrive as a member post-independence
• Slovakian MEP Eduard Kukan predicts Scotland would be broadly welcomed by EU, but warnes some states may oppose their membership
Eduard Kukan, currently an MEP for Slovakia, said he would welcome Scotland’s independent membership, and predicted that a majority of EU members would too.
However, he warned that Scotland would have to be prepared to face down its detractors, and would have to fight for what it believes in.
“To achieve your goals you have to find friends,” he told local radio network Scotland’s Community Radio.
“You have to find similar countries which would support your initiative because by doing this you will strengthen your negotiating leverage.
“Otherwise it is difficult. The success of small countries’ activities in the EU is to find similar countries with similar interests and that’s the only possibility to get what you want, so you and your leaders should think along these lines.”
Modern-day Slovakia was formed out of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, and has a population almost exactly the same size as Scotland.
Mr Kukan is member of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), by far the largest party in the European Parliament with 269 MEPs.
The SNP is currently aligned with the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA), a coalition of environmental and nationalist MEPs which has less than a fifth of the EPP’s voting weight with 58 MEPs.
Mr Kukan said Scotland would have to be prepared for some member states trying to block Scotland’s membership.
“There are all kinds of people in the European Parliament but I am sure that they will be in the minority.
“I am sure the overwhelming majority would welcome this new country and new state so don’t feel discouraged by the idea or imagine that there will be some people working against that.
“Nothing in this world comes easily. You have to be ready to fight for what you believe in.”
He added: “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.
“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.”
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 EU 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.”