After the results of the Scottish independence referendum were in on Friday (19 September), and it was clear that the answer was a resounding “no”, the EU and NATO officials sighed with relief. Responding to a single question of ‘Should Scotland become an independent country?’, Scottish voters have decided, by a large margin, that it should not –”no” had taken 55.3 percent of the vote, and “yes” only 44.7 percent. Yet, despite Scotland’s clear vote against independence from Britain, many in the corridors of power in Brussels expressed their concern that the genie of separatism has already left the bottle in Europe. While EU mostly keeping quiet in the run-up to last week’s referendum, once the Scottish “no” was secure, a number of leading EU and NATO leaders voiced their satisfaction at the outcome while drawing consequences for their own countries, for the European Union and for the Western alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, for example, said he was sure the United Kingdom would continue to play a leading role in keeping the US-led defence alliance strong. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose government has been struggling to contain an independence movement gathering pace in the country’s Catalonia region, said the Scottish result was the best outcome for Europe because “the Scottish have avoided serious economic, social, institutional and political consequences.” The European Commission’s spokesperson referred to the Scottish vote as being good news for a “united, open and stronger Europe”, effectively implying that Brussels hope the outcome will strengthen chances of Britain voting to stay in the bloc in a referendum planned for 2017. Last but not the least, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, whose country went through a painful process of separation from Slovakia more than two decades ago, noted that the outcome of the Scottish referendum made him happy because it is “yet another proof that the world has not gone entirely mad.”