First Minister hits out at US newspaper's independence claims

First Minister Alex Salmond.
Alex Salmond: Noted 'mistakes' in newspaper's column.

A US newspaper column claiming Scotland would be "unable to contribute meaningfully to global security" has been challenged by the First Minister.

Writing in Saturday's Washington Post, Alex Salmond pointed out that Norway and Denmark, two countries of a similar size to Scotland, flew more air sorties together over Libya in the recent conflict than the UK.

His comments came in response to an article in the same newspaper that has been used by his opponents to attack the case for independence.

But Mr Salmond said the piece was full of "mistakes", principally its out-of-date claim about the SNP's position on Nato.

He told Post readers that the October 31 editorial was "disappointing".

"Independence will certainly mean an end to the stationing of nuclear weapons in Scotland, that is true," he said.

"But this will merely put Scotland in the same non-nuclear category as 25 of the alliance's current 28 members.

"The claim that an independent Scotland would be 'unable to contribute meaningfully to global security' also is untrue.

"Would the same be said of European nations such as Norway, smaller than Scotland, or Denmark, almost identical in size?

"As it happens, these two countries combined flew more air sorties in the internationally sanctioned action in Libya than did the UK.

"Further, the assertion that London might veto independent Scottish membership of the European Union and its use of the pound as a currency is not borne out by the facts."

He cited the Edinburgh Agreement which commits both governments to work towards their mutual best interests whatever the outcome of the referendum, and Scotland's oil reserves which contribute to the pound's balance of payments.

Mr Salmond said the US has been instrumental in promoting democratic self-determination in the past.

"The Republic of Ireland gained its independence in the 20th century and enjoys the warmest of relationships with the United States," he said.

"Does anyone in the United States seriously consider that this relationship would be improved by seeing Dublin return to rule from London?"

He added: "In considering the true interests of the United States, perhaps The Post would do well to reflect that democracy and self-determination must by their nature represent the real interest of America, because they are the core principles on which the country was founded."

Mr Salmond concluded: "The national movement in Scotland is peaceful, democratic and civic in its nature, something perhaps, in this troubled world, to be encouraged as in the true interests of both the United States and of Scotland."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "Alex Salmond's entire case for separation is based on assertion, especially when it comes to defence and security matters.

"We know his Government has had no contact with the MoD (Ministry of Defence) over the defence capabilities of a separate Scotland and he has refused to say what, if any, contact there has been with Nato.

"The truth is that Alex Salmond is clueless on matters of defence and has no idea what role a separate Scottish defence force would have on the global stage."

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