The AP interview: Scottish leader pushes for independence, NATO

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The European crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine makes Scotland’s independence aspirations more important and demands that Scotland play its “full role” in ensuring stability and security in Europe as an eventual member of NATO, Scottish leader Nicola has said Sturgeon Tuesday an interview.

Sturgeon also warned, speaking to The Associated Press, that Scotland’s desired move away from its role in climate-damaging oil and gas exploration in the North Sea will be challenging, even if and when independence gives Scotland more direct say in North Sea drilling.

And she said she believes there is “overwhelming support” in Scotland for becoming a fully independent nation and joining NATO.

“Because Scotland’s geographic location in an important part of the North Atlantic means it would be critical to our security,” Sturgeon told the AP. “The most important way that Scotland would contribute to the broader security of the region” would be as a possible future NATO member, she said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unleashed a reshaping of the security, energy and economic alliances of Europe and of the united European democracies more than ever. In view of the war in Russia, Finland and Sweden have announced their intention to join the US-Europe NATO security bloc.

Scotland independent of the UK would portend more decisions for NATO on the possibility of further expansion.

Sturgeon, the country’s first minister, was speaking on her first trip to the United States since the pandemic lockdown. Her visit to the US will focus on Scotland’s rapid transition to renewable energy and meetings with members of Congress. Scotland generated almost all of its electricity from renewable sources in 2020.

Sturgeon said “yes” when asked if her government is still planning a new referendum on Scottish independence by next year after Scottish voters rejected it by a margin of 55% to 45% in 2014. That is her government’s “very firm mandate” from voters, she said.

Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party rose to power in part with the slogan “It’s Scotland’s oil” dating back to the 1970s, emphasizing calls for more benefits and more say in Scotland’s share of UK North Sea oil and gas production.

Sturgeon, whose government hosted the UN global climate conference in Glasgow last year, on Tuesday underscored Scotland’s determination to lead the way in moving away from climate-damaging oil and gas production. But she gave no guarantees that an independent Scotland would dwindle its share of oil and gas production faster than it now plans.

And she dismissed arguments by some opponents of Scottish independence that secession from the UK would weaken the UK and the entire Western security alliance at a time of crisis on the continent amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“With all the challenges,” Sturgeon said, “it’s more important that Scotland play its full part … in finding solutions to the challenges the world is facing.”

“And independence better equips us for that,” Sturgeon said.

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