Independence ‘may lead to Britain’s Balkanisation’

Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has claimed independence would lead to the 'Balkanisation' of Britain. Picture: AFP/Getty
Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has claimed independence would lead to the 'Balkanisation' of Britain. Picture: AFP/Getty
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SWEDEN’S foreign minister has claimed that Scottish independence would lead to the ‘Balkanisation’ of Britain.

Carl Bildt also warned that a Yes vote would have ‘far-reaching consequences’ for the rest of Europe, in comments that echoed those made by former UK Defence Secretary Lord Robertson, in which he claimed that Scottish independence would have ‘cataclysmic’ geopolitical consequences.

Mr Bildt told the Financial Times that there would be ‘unforeseen chain reactions’ in Europe and the United Kingdom if Scotland voted for independence on September 18th.

The former UN special envoy to the Balkans between 1999 and 2001 said: “I think it’s going to have far more profound implications than people think. The Balkanisation of the British Isles is something we are not looking forward to.

“It opens up a lot, primarily in Scotland but also in the UK. What are the implications for the Irish question? What happens in Ulster?”

Mr Bildt also hinted that a victory for the Yes campaign could lead to the rUK having to renegotiate some of its own EU membership terms.

“The vote is one thing,” he added. “But there will then be a fairly painful period of separation and how is that going to affect the EU relationship? I assume there will have to be renegotiation of votes.”

Sweden is one of the UK’s closest allies in Europe, and Fredrik Reinfeldt, leader of its centre-right government, has formed a close relationship with David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

But Mr Bildt, a former Prime Minister of Sweden, has also warned of the dangers of the UK leaving the EU, following promises made by Mr Cameron to hold a referendum on membership by 2017.

“If we were to lose the UK it would be a significant setback. The EU would lose a significant element of global clout. It would be an even bigger disaster for the UK,” Mr Bildt added.

He likened the UK to ‘an island adrift in the Atlantic’ if it left the EU.

And the Swedish politician commented that both the EU and independence referendums showed that the debate in Europe was in the process of moving away from the Eurozone crisis to a more political phase.

“The main challenges in the past five years have been economic ones,” he explained. “Looking ahead for the next five years, it is political challenges in the east fairly obviously and also in the west fairly obviously.”

A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “The Nordic states set a fine example of how neighbouring countries can cooperate and share a social union without a political one. A Yes vote in September provides Britain with an opportunity to emulate that.

“Scotland has been a member of the European Union for more than 40 years and we can look forward to our continued membership with independence. The only foreseeable future disruption to the EU from these islands comes from Westminster’s proposed in/out referendum.”