Scotland’s First State Visit 68

Who should an independent Scotland invite to pay the first State Visit to the country after independence?

I intend to do a series of posts at intervals over the next few weeks on some of the diplomatic needs of an independent Scotland. Before tackling some of the weightier questions, I thought today I might look at the exhilarating question of who Scotland should invite to pay the first State Visit after independence.

A State Visit is made by the Head of State to another Head of State, as opposed to just the Head of Government (so monarch or President as opposed to Prime Minister). Head of Government visits are quite frequent, but State Visits are generally just a couple a year. The recipient state extends the invitation, though it is not unknown for a message to be sent to indicate that an invitation would be welcome. A reciprocal visit the other way usually follows within a year or two.

State Visits are affairs of great pomp and pageantry, but also the highest level of expression of political amity. Behind the parading and banquets is a huge amount of government to government diplomacy and of trade and business discussion.

The first State Visit to an independent country is a matter of huge symbolism. So who should Scotland invite to be the first Head of State to greet their Scottish counterpart as an equal, after over three hundred years?

Fortunately we can rule out WENI (Wales, England, Northern Ireland), as the issues involved in the Queen visiting herself are over-complex. I expect the Prime Minister of WENI will pay the first Head of Government visit, as the relationship will be extremely important to both countries. But State Visit, no.

The same consideration rules out other countries which have the Queen as Head of State. Otherwise New Zealand might have been a good choice. A similar size to Scotland, a thriving democracy and a population very heavily of Scottish descent.

I think we can rule out the United States too. The US will probably need to back up the Tory Prime Minister of WENI by pretending to be hacked off about the relocation of Trident missiles from Scotland (in fact the US really finds Trident more a distraction than a serious part of the arms equation. Trident is of no interest to anybody except the Westminster politicians it makes feel important). But Scotland’s strategic position in the North Atlantic will remain vital to the USA, and post independence may increase the heritage awareness of the massive number of US voters of Scottish descent. So an early State Visit for the USA, but not the first.

One way that Scotland can immediately mark a more moral foreign policy than WENI is by recognising Palestine, now that its statehood has been accepted at the UN. Palestine should be invited to open an Embassy in Edinburgh, as opposed to the “Mission” it is permitted to the Court of St James. An early state visit to Scotland by Palestine would be a great event, but not I think the very first such visit, which Scotland might need to promote its own interests as it embarks on the path of statehood.

Much the same goes for other countries with which Scotland has a close historical connection, of which Malawi has very close links. But the human rights situation there is deteriorating.

Norway is a country with strong historical links to Scotland. Its management of oil wealth is viewed as the best practice example. It shares a key maritime boundary. A good relationship with Norway will be essential to Scotland.

The overwhelming interest must be for Scotland to use the honour of the very first State visit to cement a relationship with one of its key EU partners.

Ireland is an obvious candidate, Scotland’s sister nation. But nobody wants to stir the sectarian divide and further alarm the benighted bigots of the West coast. So I don’t think Ireland will be high on the list.

Scotland’s EU neighbours in Scandinavia – Denmark, Sweden, Finland – are those with whom Scotland is likely long term to share interests and a voting bloc. These relationships will be essential.

Italy and Poland both have a great many human ties to Scotland. It has been estimated that 25% of all Scots have some Italian blood, like my good self. Poland is sending its second wave of welcome immigrants, seventy years after the first, and has strong historic links through the Baltic trade.

But in the end Scotland’s interest must be best served by inviting the first visit from one of the most powerful European states, either Germany or France. There is a wealth of historical and emotional resonance for France to be first in the queue. The French may not remember the Auld Alliance as readily as the Scots, but they are ready to play a helpful role on Scotland’s uninterrupted EU membership. I would opt for President Hollande as the first state visitor to Scotland.

There are many reasons why it is a bad idea to have a monarch, not least the entrenchment of an aristocratic elite and the sheer insult to democracy. But having a Head of State who is also Head of other States whose interests are different is a limiting factor. The Queen dislikes State Visits immensely. She only receives 2 a year for the UK, 4 at most, and getting her available to host them for Scotland will be difficult. Just a minor one of very many reasons we need a Republic.

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68 thoughts on “Scotland’s First State Visit

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  • fool

    As for a monarch no mention of the Jacobites, but how about the restoration of the Kings of Dunbarton – ac yr hen iath yn yr hen goglydd.

  • Rehmat

    Mr. Murray, president Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Markel could be the worse “friends” for the Scotts unless they want their new country to be an Israeli colony.

    Hollande is the least popular (16%) president of the French Republic in the modern age. Not only that, he is one of the most immoral person (or Jew) politician. He has never married but has fathered four children from a co-politician Marie-Segolene Royal.

  • pete fairhurst

    Tony M
    4 Aug, 2014 – 10:39 pm

    Oh dear, yet another scot with a massive chip on his shoulder. Same old, same old…..

    You waffle on, and insult, but you don’t address the substance. No surprise there hey?

    And you seek to label me with minimal, inadequate, evidence. I’m no Tory Unionist sonny, that’s for sure.

    Am I to take it that you seriously want sweaty betty as your head of state? And that you think that she only wields ceremonial power? Get a grip man. Wise up. Study your history. The power of the British monarchy is deep seated and insidious. Yet you still think thats ok.

    Independence? You’re ‘avin’ a laugh. Ha ha ha ha ha

  • DoNNyDarKo

    thanks Kempe, as you know, not all renewable is wind power. But thanks anyway.

  • Kempe

    No probs. Germany has invested heavily in solar power too, on one day in june it was able to provide 50% of Germany’s demand.

  • Peter Kemp

    I’ll go with Kim Wrong-un of the DPRK. He’ll be so impressed at the invitation that he might, at the State dinner, after being plied with copious quantities of single malt whisky, agree to give up all the nukes! Then, give him a free plot of land for the DPRK embassy next door to the Yanks, which will guarantee the Yanks behaving themselves in Scotland with the North Koreans spying on them every day (side deal – spying for Scotland as well). Scotland could then intimate they might buy weapons from the DPRK which might have the Yanks offering to give those for free as well.

    Of course any lip from those foreign Englanders with BBC propaganda, I’m sure the DPRK embassy could be persuaded to jam those transmissions all over.

    Diplomatic victories all round I’d say. 🙂

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