By ELLEN KNICKMEYER and ANNA JOHNSON, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The European crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine makes Scotland’s campaign for independence more important and demands that Scotland play its “full role” in ensuring stability and security in Europe. as a possible member of NATO, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said in an interview on Tuesday.
Sturgeon, speaking to The Associated Press, also warned that Scotland’s desired move away from its role in the production of climate-damaging oil and gas in the North Sea will be difficult even if and when independence gives the Scots a more direct voice over the North Sea wells.
And she said she believed there was “overwhelming support” in Scotland for becoming a fully independent nation and joining NATO.
“Because Scotland’s geographical position, in a key part of the North Atlantic, means that would be essential for our security,” Sturgeon told the AP. “The main way Scotland would contribute to the wider security of the region” would be as a possible future member of NATO, she said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine galvanized an overhaul of Europe’s security, energy and economic alliances and united European democracies more strongly than before. Finland and Sweden have announced their intention to join NATO’s US-European security bloc in light of Russia’s war.
An independent Scotland from the UK would indicate more decisions for NATO on the possibility of further expansion.
Sturgeon, the country’s prime minister, spoke about her first trip to the United States since the pandemic lockdown. His visit to the United States focuses on what has been Scotland’s rapid domestic transition to renewable energy and meetings with members of Congress. In 2020, Scotland generated almost all of its electricity from renewables.
Sturgeon answered ‘yes’ when asked if his government was still planning a new referendum on Scottish independence by next year, after Scottish voters rejected it 55%-45 % in 2014. That was her government’s “very strong mandate” from voters, she said.
Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party came to power partly on a 1970s slogan ‘It’s Scotland’s oil’, emphasizing demands for more benefits and more influence on the share of Scotland in the production of oil and gas from the North Sea in the United Kingdom.
Sturgeon, whose government hosted the United Nations world climate change conference in Glasgow last year, underlined on Tuesday Scotland’s determination to be a leader in moving away from oil and gas production which destroys the climate. But she made no guarantees that an independent Scotland would reduce its share of oil and gas production faster than it currently expects.
And she dismissed arguments from some opponents of Scottish independence that separation from the UK would weaken the UK and the Western security alliance as a whole at a time of crisis on the Continent, given the war from Russia to Ukraine.
“With all the challenges,” said Sturgeon, “it is more important that Scotland plays its full part…in finding solutions to the challenges facing the world.”
“And independence equips us better to do that,” Sturgeon said.
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