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Speakers from Catalonia, Scotland, the Basque Country, Wales, Galicia, and Quebec took part in a major conference, hosted by the European Free Alliance Parliamentary Group, in the European Parliament in Brussels during November. Entitled 'The Right to Decide', the event focussed on the distinctive and very different constitutional campaigns and movements around Europe, and elsewhere, working towards greater autonomy or independence
for stateless nations.
The recent event was opened by Jill Evans, President of the EFA Group in the European Parliament. In her opening address, Jill said: "This is a very exciting time for all of us but especially for the European Free Alliance. We believe in independence not dependence. I represent Wales. Wales is not a poor nation but it is an impoverished one because of successive London government policies. What is interesting about EFA is that we are a network of parties, moving in the same direction, travelling the same road but each making our own unique journey. We can support one another and share experiences, we can help one another along the way but we have to make the journey ourselves."
Principal guest speaker on behalf of Scotland was Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, SNP candidate for next year's Euro elections and a member of the advisory board of Yes Scotland. The large audience enjoyed a wide-ranging overview of the remarkable progress which we are making towards independence in Scotland, with our unique position in having a referendum process agreed by the UK government in the Edinburgh Agreement.
Tasmina said, "Importantly, the Edinburgh Agreement also commits both governments to respect the outcome, meaning that if there is a Yes vote, there will be no attempt by the government in London to block the will of the Scottish people. So with a Yes result, the way will be open for Scotland to begin negotiations with Westminster on the transition to independence. Our aim is to have those talks concluded within 18 months, meaning that the first elections for an independent Scottish parliament will be held at the end of the current term, in May 2016. That, we believe, is an entirely realistic timetable.
Discussions with the UK government over the terms of independence are hugely important, but they are of course, not the only discussions we will have."
"We fully intend to retain our membership of the European Union. Scotland is, and always has been, a European nation. I know that, here at the very heart of the European Union and throughout the member states, there is a certain irritation and weariness at the UK's deliberately confrontational attitude to the EU, its refusal to engage, and its sometimes childish petulance. Scotland does not share the UK Government's destructive and embarrassing mindset.
Scots have a lot to contribute to the EU and a lot to gain from their continued membership."
"Opinion polls show, that the more Scots learn about independence, the more inclined they are to vote for it. We will have to work hard to win over the electors, and we cannot for a moment be complacent, but a majority for Yes is undoubtedly there to be won."