HAVING just returned from a holiday visit to Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, I read David Pratt’s report on the political situation in Slovakia (Sep 7) with great interest. He rightly points to the great danger to Ukraine and Nato unity if Robert Fico wins the election in Slovakia on 30th of this month, given his stated intention to stop sending arms to Ukraine, and to align with Putin.

On the question of comparing the “Velvet Divorce” of the Czech Republic and Slovakia with Scottish independence, here are a few interesting aspects that came to mind on this trip.

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1. The population of the Czech Republic is about 10 million. That of Slovakia is about 5 million (about the same as Scotland).

2. Prior to separation, the former tended to dominate the latter (sounds familiar).

3. The history and political and social cultures of the two were different (sounds familiar).

4. The split was decided by politicians only – there was no referendum.

5. Czechoslovakia was said at the time to be “falling apart by itself” (sounds familiar).

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6. A Czech tour guide said to me that, as a whole, the people in both countries get along better than they did before (which would likely happen here too).

7. The Czech tour guide also felt sure that 99% of the populations of both countries would vote for re-unification, if asked. However, a recent poll found that 47% of Czechs and 62% of Slovaks now think the separation was the right decision (although polls are not as accurate as a vote, they are better than opinions!).

As David Pratt says, the reality was more complicated and the circumstances not quite comparable with those of Scotland today. However, important common factors can be seen in items 2, 3, 5 above, and the important difference is that Scotland has resources that England does not want to lose.

Dennis White

INSPIRED by a David Pratt article in last Thursday’s paper, Angus Shaw of Cupar (Letters, Sep 15) suggested independent Scotland should ally with the US (and Nato) and perhaps even retain nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

David’s piece, typically authoritative and informed (and atypically provocative) had deplored the tendency of many Scots to show plenty of (even aggressive) interest in “local” British issues and yet display a shocking lack of knowledge of and concern for affairs beyond our shores. He referenced several crises in world affairs with which Scotland was “inextricably linked” and pointed out our future was not distinct from that of the world. We had to remember our Bard’s true message as a call to exercise our particular sense of shared humanity as brithers a’.

Angus Shaw’s warm response went further to propose we ally with the US, which he held “has had an increasingly important role to play in maintaining world stability.”

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Nor would membership of the EU be straightforward, he continued. We may need “to bring something positive to the table.”

In his context it seems most likely Angus referred to the nuclear arsenal on the Clyde, but surely it might not seem sensible to all the 30-plus members to welcome as fellow a state so apocalyptically armed but without any kind of control over such disastrous potential, that control held by non-EU members the US and rUK.

As to the US role in world stability, even we uninterested Scots must wonder if that’s what the US was doing from Korea to Vietnam, Iran to Iraq, Afghanistan to Libya. Even BBC foreign correspondents (rarely and very briefly) refer to interference by foreign states as a cause of some disasters abroad.

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David Pratt is persuasive in championing the Bard’s call for a shared humanity, but that doesn’t translate into teaming up with military blocs to bolster the power of the West. The brotherhood isn’t just “local” West. If we are to avoid compounding the polarisation of West and East into a globally disastrous endgame conflict, we must take a broader view and include our brothers Chinese and Russian, indeed all humanity, in sensible planning for co-existence.

That’s what oor Rab would call for, and, near impossible of realisation though it may seem, we have no choice but to try.

George Kerevan’s recent warning was spot on: we have rarely come as close as today to the extinction of homo sapiens.

John Melrose

FOOLS rush in where angels fear to tread. Foolish politicians rush to pass climate legislation without thinking. The rush to introduce electric cars will cost £9 billion in lost fuel duty by 2030. EV owners pay no fuel duty or emission taxes. However, drivers who cannot afford an EV pay fuel duty and emissions taxes. Fuel tax and emission taxes produce £35bn every year for the Treasury, so drivers who cannot afford an EV are subsidising the rich EV owner. It is expected that motorists will buy petrol or diesel vehicles before the 2030 deadline, thus thwarting this UK Government, and good luck to them since more than 70 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions are ignoring their climate promises.

Clark Cross