I AM still very surprised by what the now 20-year-old parliament in Edinburgh has done for Scotland. For me it has changed the whole political setting in the UK and Scotland. The Scottish identity, Scotland’s standing in Europe and the world, has been recognised globally as a very different parliament in a very British environment. The Scottish Parliament has even changed my personal life and it is still an ongoing process. I was there when Scotland voted for the Parliament, I was there when it was established. I interviewed Donald Dewar about it for German radio, and over many years I followed events and discussions in the Parliament.

And, to state very clearly: the Scottish Parliament is also my parliament. Like all EU nationals living here, I was allowed to vote three times for the Parliament giving me the unexpected and lovely feeling that I was included.

For me, there is no doubt: the Scottish Parliament has changed everything and is still a very different parliament compared with others. What I like and really enjoy is the founding members of this Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, in 1999, clearly chose to build the parliament on the basis of the European Convention of Human Rights, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, from where I now report and work most of the time.

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With its Parliament, Scotland has shown – very differently to any other UK nation – that human rights and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg are accepted and desired. It has sent a very clear sign to the rest of world of where Scotland stands and precisely what the Scottish opinion is.

The Parliament has also abolished many prejudices, certainly the one that Scots are famous for – saving money. I remember the original Holyrood plans, telling us it would cost up to £40 million to build when it actually cost £414m. I happily recall the many and very impressive review board sessions close to the German Consulate General in Edinburgh’s west end and the impressive reporting of BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor. History.

Former SNP MP Angus Robertson – in German – once told Germans they would mention “Schottenpreise”, low prices for goods to save money. I guess my former BBC Vienna colleagues – in German and English and Scots – will now agree Scots have shown what prejudices are worth in reality. Scots have done it again – the trams in Edinburgh – I love it.

The Scottish Parliament, and many in the Scottish media will be shocked to read this, has reached European and international standing – the highest standards of many continental European (Regional) Parliaments, from Germany to France, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland.

The Parliament has reached a level recognised in Europe and the world, while some parts of the Scottish media still have problems keeping up with the pace of this modern and forward-looking institution. While some colleagues in Scotland and the rUK still see Holyrood as a smaller version of the London House of Commons (which it is not, remember the representational voting system), Europe and the world regards it as well-established, delivering bills, laws and work on a very high European level. Its MSPs are very much welcomed in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, to voice concerns on Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian and many other issues in the 47 member states. Scottish parliamentarians are listened to and well respected in this community.

The National: Udo Seiwert-Fauti says Holyrood has changed his lifeUdo Seiwert-Fauti says Holyrood has changed his life

You can even observe this “new” Scottish quality in the European Parliament (when SNP MEP Alyn Smith speaks up for Scotland) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where national parliamentarians are representing their 47 member state parliaments.

Delegations really listen to the very different Scottish accents. It feels like home sometimes. The same can be seen when, for instance, SNP MSP Angela Constance intervenes with her Scots thinking and Scottish views. I will never forget the past speeches of Christina McKelvie MSP in the Council of Europe when she often told UK colleagues and all Europeans what Scotland stands for and why Scotland does it differently compared to three other UK nations and many European countries. Scots wha hae … thanks to the Scottish Parliament.

I am very happy to confirm that the creation of the Holyrood Parliament has changed Scotland, the UK and Europe. It has raised attention for Scotland and Scottish views, brought together the country “north of the Border”, created a very different Scottish feeling of parliamentary discussions (compare a Holyrood session to the shouting in the green leather room in London) and encouraged Scottish parliamentarians and Scottish ministers to stand up and bring in the Scottish voice on an EU and European level. Could Scotland join the EU? Do not even discuss it, the answer is very clear: YES! Holyrood has made it possible to create and establish Scottish hubs in Brussels, Berlin and soon Berne. It might be strange for an unbiased and impartial journalist to also confirm this: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is a wee bit of a star in Europe. Europeans – and certainly Germans – know what to expect when she arrives to fight for Scotland. Even the United Nations have finally realised it.

How dare I – as a foreigner German – write all this? To start with, the Scottish Parliament has changed my life and my work. It made me leave Germany and move over with my European family (Germans, Swiss and French) to Edinburgh.

I realised early that Holyrood could and would be the blueprint for a modern parliament in a future European environment. Until today I am also very thankful that my Scottish media colleagues accepted me in their ranks and treated me as one of theirs.

To be honest (you would expect that from a humourless and undiplomatic German) I still find it breathtaking what this Parliament does, how it works, how it defends Scottish human rights, how it and the many MSPs fight and stand up for Scotland and how they have developed a Scottish political discussion culture.

I still find it unbelievable how the Parliament has changed everything, formed a new Scottish political culture and a new Scottish identity. After many years observing I am still surprised how this Parliament is connected to “normal Scots”. Just observe the masses of visitors on a weekday and then on the weekend.

To summarise, as a federal and convinced European German, I congratulate Scotland and all Scots for the Scottish Parliament. I congratulate all who work in it and for this “Catalonian Palace”, opposite the other more royal one. I and many other Europeans hope it will never lose contact with Europe and the many Europeans who like the Scottish landscape, the people of Scotland and the Parliament.

Whatever Brexit happens there is one consolation for all of us. Meeting “Scots abroad”, quoting this famous McCalmans song: “They’re from the streets of Aberdeen and the small border town, the Hebridean Islands and all the country round “They travelled to a new land and they sing a different song but there is no mistaking where they’re from.”

Udo Seiwert-Fauti is a senior special correspondent on Brexit, Europe and Scottish affairs