SLOVAKIA is the closest nation in the EU to Scotland in terms of population figures, and yesterday saw a ceremony in Perthshire that demonstrated how our countries were linked through a remarkable Scotsman.

To mark the influence of Scottish historian Professor Robert William Seton-Watson on Slovakia, a wreath was laid at his grave in Abernethy with Veterans Minister Graeme Dey and the Slovakian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Lubomir Rehak, in attendance.

Professor Seton-Watson, who was born in London to Scottish parents in 1879, was one of the first British historians of central and south eastern Europe, and an expert on tensions within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

His academic and political work helped prepare the ground for the recognition of several central European states, including Czechoslovakia, at the end of the First World War. Slovakia and the Czech Republic split amicably in 1993 in what was known as the Velvet Divorce.

The historian died on the Isle of Skye in 1951 and was buried in Abernethy’s Kirk of St Bride.

More than 2500 people born in Slovakia live in Scotland and a Slovakian consular office opened in Glasgow in January 2016 to help develop trade, investment and cultural links.

Dey said: “It is an honour to celebrate the life of Professor Seton- Watson, and recognise his contribution to the history of Slovakia. I take great pride that ‘Scotus Viator’ or ‘The Travelling Scot’, as he was known, had an instrumental role to play in the Slovakia of the present day.

“The Scottish Government is committed to deepening its relations with Slovakia and our other European neighbours, in spite of the challenges posed by Brexi and the needless damage it threatens to impose.

“This is also a great opportunity to emphasise that Slovakian nationals remain warmly welcome in Scotland and their contribution to our economy, culture and society is greatly appreciated.”


Latvia shows what No-Deal Brexit will cost

IN all the current brouhaha, it has been quietly forgotten that a No-Deal Brexit will directly impact on the budgets of every other European Union country almost immediately after Boris Johnson’s Tricky No Treaty deadline.

Because all EU budgets are planned well in advance, in the event of a No-Deal Brexit, the UK would immediately cease to continue to pay into the advance budgets and this will mean all the others making up the shortfall. If a deal is done, the UK could continue to make payments for some time afterwards, the duration to be negotiated.   Latvia has become one of the first countries in the EU to state how much it will have to pay. The Baltic state, with a population half that of Scotland, will have to find almost €30 million over the next two years to make up for British no show.

The National:

Latvia’s Finance Ministry said the country’s contributions could increase by €4.23m in 2019, rising to an increase of €23.27m in 2020.  Latvia currently contributes €250m to the EU budget and the projected increase for the nation in 2020 would mean a 9.3% rise in its net contribution.

The Finance Ministry added: “There is a risk that in the medium term Latvia’s payments into the EU budget could increase in relation with the planned amount if Brexit takes place without an agreement and if EU member states fail to agree in the short term on measures to lessen the consequences of Brexit and avoid a negative impact on the EU budget.”  The European Council has said: “Since the UK notified its intention to withdraw from the EU, the EU has consistently stated that both the EU and the UK should respect the financial obligations resulting from the whole period of the UK’s membership in the EU.”

A No Deal exit on October 31  will leave Latvia and others in  Brexit misery.