A year after the UK signed the Separation Agreement with Scotland, and two years after the Independence Referendum, negotiations between the two countries are dragging contentiously on. The remaining nations of newly dismembered Great Britain are in the painful throes of constitutional reorganization. Relations between Westminster and Edinburgh are chilly at best.
Nevertheless, Scotland's President, Alex Salmond, head of state as well as head of government, (and likely to hold power for at least five more years under the new constitution written by the SNP), is in an upbeat mood.
He has just returned from a triumphant foreign tour, during which he was greeted by adoring crowds in Barcelona, Corsica, Venice and Quebec. (His barring from San Sebastian by the Spanish government gratifyingly prompted riots throughout the Basque Country.) Salmond is now a bona fide international celebrity and beloved of secessionists everywhere. In the British Isles, his speeches to the Welsh assembly and to the Irish Dail proposing a Celtic Federation are front page news.
The trip has raised Salmond's spirits after some months of uncharacteristic gloom. For much of 2016 Salmond faced the most difficult challenge of his extraordinary career. The problem was not Scotland's exclusion for the time being from the EU and Nato, but its financial crisis. Those economic warnings from Better Together that played so badly with Scottish voters turned out to be true after all1.
Fortunately for President Salmond and his country's financial health, Scotland is not without wealthy and generous friends abroad.
There are friendship treaties in the pipeline with Venezuela and Iran. And the first formal State Visitor of the Salmond presidency on September 15, 2016 is none other Vladimir Putin himself.
It is actually a return visit. Salmond's second official state visit to another country as President was to Moscow. (The first was of course to Paris where he raised his glass to the "auld alliance" at dinner with a slightly nonplussed President Ségolène Royale.)
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