Scottish First Minister warned that 12 countries could be barred from his country’s waters and would not even be allowed to pass through to reach Norwegian waters if an independent Scotland was refused European Union (EU) membership.
This warning was made by Prime Minister Alex Salmond during a speech to the College of Europe in Brussels referring to the case in which the Scottish National Party (SNP) plans to retain EU membership after independence are rejected, The Telegraph informed.
Patricia Ferguson, Scottish Labor’s external affairs spokesperson considers his ‘threats’ about blockading the rest of Europe from Scottish and even Norwegian waters will not go down well with those ‘he seeks to persuade about Scotland’s membership.’
However, Salmond stressed the core message of his address was that an independent Scotland would be an enthusiastic, engaged and committed contributor to European progress.
In many ways, in fact, Scottish independence is a cause which has been profoundly influenced and strengthened by the European Union, Salmond pointed out, calling the institution proof that independence does not mean isolation.
The Prime Minister also stressed the status of 160,000 EU workers and students in Scotland would be uncertain if the country was not allowed to retain its EU membership.
For his part, David Mundell, the Scotland Office minister, said Salmond had made a significant legal and diplomatic error by threatening to block access to Norwegian waters. He said an independent Scotland would be legally obliged to allow safe passage to foreign ships with Norwegian fishing rights, The Guardian reported.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said he would be writing to the first minister asking him to explain what he meant.
We need to ask the Scottish government for clarification of exactly what he means, Armstrong said. Is this a threat to the rest of Europe or is fishing being placed on the table as a bargaining counter?
To Armstrong that rhetoric would involve problems with the Spanish and Irish governments, in particular, but also raised questions about Scotland's rights to fish in other UK waters post--independence – effectively closing off large areas of the North Sea and Irish Sea.
The first minister also revealed he would urge the European Commission to rethink laws that he said prevent the Scottish government from making the Living Wage a requirement of public sector contracts, BBC reported.
Ahead of the prime minister's speech, Foreign Secretary William Hague wrote to the first minister, arguing that Scotland benefits from the UK's strong voice in Europe and claimed that, if Scotland opted for independence, negotiations to join the EU are likely to be complex and long.
Voters in Scotland are to go to the polls on 18 September, when they will be asked if Scotland should be an independent country. (FIS)