Scotland should be allowed to represent itself in the European Union and other international bodies to reflect the growing influence of small nations on the world stage, according to the SNP.
Latvia with a population of two million people assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union yesterday.
It will hand over to tiny Luxembourg, which has a population smaller than Glasgow, in June.
The SNP’s bid for Scottish independence was rejected in a referendum in September and polls show “devo max” - which is widely interpreted as devolution of all powers except foreign affairs and defence - remains the most popular constitutional option.
But SNP MEP Alyn Smith said this year’s EU presidencies demonstrate small nations can “punch well above their weight on the international stage”, and insists Scotland’s five million citizens should have their own voice.
“I warmly welcome the upcoming presidencies of both Latvia and Luxembourg and look forward to working with them in 2015 on our shared priorities,” he said.
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“That two countries with populations which are significantly smaller than Scotland’s will be setting Europe’s agenda for the next 12 months only confirms the potential of the EU to allow small nations to punch well above their weight on the international stage.
“But while both Latvia and Luxembourg will be able to lead on issues of direct importance to them and will be able to represent their own national interests at the top table - Scotland finds itself represented by a UK Government more focused on playing to Ukip’s agenda than in playing a constructive role in Europe.
“That is exactly why the SNP has always been clear that the extensive new powers which Scotland was promised must give Scotland a stronger and clearer voice on the international stage - to allow us to stand up for our own interests at the top table as other small nations do, rather than leaving it up to a distant Westminster establishment.
“An SNP vote at the general election will put real pressure on Westminster to deliver these powers - and to give Scotland the voice at the top table that we need to stand up for the national interest.”
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