Scotland: EU 'would consider them to join' says MEP
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The Scottish Government admitted it was considering opening new “Scotland House” hubs across various countries as part of new foreign policy commitments. Ministers say they would “consider any future expansion” in line with wider government priorities stressing the Nordic countries were one option for investment including in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Scotland House hubs, which are present in various cities including Berlin and Brussels, help to establish “international collaboration” between countries.
SNP ministers add of the network: “The network provides a focus for Scottish partners needing presence in a country, capital or continent and play a critical role in supporting international collaboration which delivers economic benefits and helps address societal and global challenges.”
Scottish Development International (SDI) offices have also been established in countries around the world in a bid to boost Scotland’s worldwide presence in investment terms.
Scotland’s trade minister Ivan McKee said SDI bases have been opened in 38 countries in North America, the Far East, India, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, but added: “Of these, 32 share premises or are sited at British embassies or consulates.”
Mr Mckee said SDI offices had a presence in cities including Calgary, Toronto, Mexico City, Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Jose, Melbourne, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
Under the Scottish Government’s new plan, the Scottish Government said Copenhagen was “one option for future investment” for a new Scotland House.
The enhanced embassy style plan is also set to be included in the SNP’s upcoming election manifesto as part of its foreign policy commitment.
Former SNP MP Stephen Gethins says the plan will focus on strengthening the government’s diplomatic focus.
Mr Gethins, who is now an academic at the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews has written a book titled Nation to Nation: Scotland’s Place in the World.
It claims that foreign policy is an important issue for Scotland and discusses how the party are considering expanding their foreign presence.
Professor Gethins said: “Scotland has a long history of international engagement with partners around Europe and the rest of the world.”
He continued: “Opening a new centre in Copenhagen is a sensible move that will help consolidate links with these neighbours and close European partners that will help our businesses, universities and the cultural sector among others.”
As a part of a submission to the UK Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Scottish officials led by First Minister Sturgeon also proposed Scotland be granted a right to use embassies and other official UK facilities abroad.
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But the UK Government have made clear that foreign relations were a reserved matter, with a senior Whitehall source adding: “Foreign affairs are a reserved matter for the UK Government.
“Whilst devolution permits the Scottish Government to undertake some foreign relations duties, they [the Scottish Governmnet] should not overstep the mark.
“This plan seems bizarre and ridiculous and seems to be an indirect way of wanting to break up the UK and achieving a goal of independence”.
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