FORMER US secretary of state Madeleine Albright has voiced concerns about independence as she warned that Scotland leaving the UK could lead to a more “fragmented” Europe.
Mrs Albright, who was Bill Clinton’s secretary of state – America’s most senior foreign affairs official – is reported to have said nations could respect each other’s differences without being “totally separated”.
The intervention by Mrs Albright, who was a fundraiser for Barack Obama’s successful re-election campaign, is likely to be widely seen as the most high-profile criticism of nationalism within Europe.
She is also reported to have talked about lessons learned from the Second World War saying that historically nations were better off “where we were co-operating more”.
The influential US Democrat, who is close to Hillary Clinton, the current secretary of state, was asked about her personal views on independence and nationalism during a visit to Glasgow where she spoke at a Scottish Council for Development and Industry event.
Ms Albright, who was Mr Clinton’s secretary of state during his second term in the White House, said: “I find it hard to get involved in Scottish politics but I think one always has to be careful… In this day and age we have to all try to figure out how to work together, not so much separately.
“The US and Europe have more in common than any other places in the world and there are so many issues going on in other places, so the point is how strong can a EU be… How can we be partners to each other, and so fragmentation does not help us on that.”
Mrs Albright, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, appeared to suggest the creation of newly-independent nations was against historical trends.
She said: “It is counter to where people were going. A lot, if one looks at European history, has been about people fighting against each other, and there was a kind of thought that the lessons of the 20th century had been learnt and that we were better off where we were co-operating more. What is so evident is the interrelatedness of everything, so fragmentation is not a good idea.
“Again, without getting involved in each separate one, I think there are ways in which there can be respect for the various ethnic or religious differences without having to be totally separated.”
Shadow secretary of state for Scotland, Margaret Curran, seized on Mrs Albright’s reported comments to claim that international opposition to independence was growing.
The Spanish government has previously suggested that it would oppose an independent Scotland’s automatic admission to the European Union.
Ms Curran said: “Madeleine Albright now adds her name to a long list of international figures who have expressed their concern about Scotland separating from the rest of the UK.”
She added: “As one of the foremost progressive American politicians, she knows that the way to make your voice heard and to bring about change around the world is to work together with friends and allies.”
However, the SNP insisted that an independent Scotland would be a useful “friend and ally” of the United States as the party said there was now a clear path to achieve independence.