At the beginning of this week when Nicola Sturgeon made world news by announcing her intentions to call a second referendum for independence, her statement caused many reactions. On Tuesday, the Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis, who was visiting Peru at the time, was questioned about Scotland. He said that Scotland has to “join the queue” for EU membership causing a tempest in a teapot in the modern diplomacy.
“Spain to veto Scotland”, “Spain issues Scottish warning” were only few of the headlines following the words of the Spanish diplomat. But did he actually say that? Well, Mr. Dastis’ exact words were: “Spain supports the integrity of the United Kingdom, and does not encourage secessions or divisions in any of the member states.” Reading between the lines it does sound like he is against Scotland’s referendum but it’s not the official position of the Spanish government that they will veto a potential independent Scotland to join EU. In his defense came a member of SNP – Joanna Cherry, MP in the House of Commons. “No other EU member state has said that it would veto an independent Scotland’s membership…. The Spanish have not said that. Go home and Google this evening, the Spanish government have not said that they would veto,” she said.
The reason Spain to walk the thin line when it comes to commenting on the breaking of political union is rooted in their own history. Catalonia for centuries had tried to declare independence through political movements and even violence. Madrid has to play very carefully when it comes to supporting nationalist movement in other countries. Last year the Catalonian Parliament approved a referendum in the region which, of course, didn’t meet with the support of the official power. The results were: unrecognized results, political scandals and once again increasing tension between Madrid and Barcelona.
However, coming back to the Scottish referendum, it is still unclear when and what will be the outcome. Perhaps that’s why the Spanish Prime minister Mr Rajoy hasn’t yet expressed the official statement of his country. In the worst-case scenario, his country might stop Scotland to remain a member of EU. Then Scotland would have to reapply and go through negotiation process.
Currently two countries are on the path to join the EU – Serbia and Iceland, which overtook Turkey because of the insecure political situation in the state.