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Albright warns over 'fragmentation'

A former US Secretary of State has warned that European fragmentation "is not a good idea", it has been reported.

With a referendum on Scottish independence due in 2014 and a growing campaign in Catalonia for independence from Spain, Dr Madeleine Albright suggested that fragmentation would be unhelpful to trans-Atlantic relations and the EU`s standing on the global stage.

"I find it hard to get involved in Scottish politics but I think one always has to be careful," she told The Sunday Times. "In this day and age we have to all figure out how to work together, not so much separately."

She said: "The US and Europe have more in common than any other places in the world and there are so many issues going on in other places so the point is can a strong EU be...how can we be partners to each other? So fragmentation does not help on that. It is counter to where people were going.

"A lot, if one looks at European history, has been about people fighting against each other, and there was kind of a thought that the lessons of the 20th Century had been learnt and that we were better off where we were co-operating more, and what is so evident is the inter-relatedness of everything, so fragmentation is not a good idea."

She echoed the sentiments of a controversial editorial in The Washington Post newspaper which said Scottish independence would lead to "a less stable world". Dr Albright was the USA Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton between 1997 and 2001. She addressed a Scottish Council for Development and Industry awards ceremony in Glasgow on Friday.

An SNP spokesman said: "With the Edinburgh Agreement we have, for the first time, an agreed and consented process between the UK and Scottish governments, which will have legal status, for Scotland to become an independent country. It is the Tories who are threatening Scotland's place in Europe. We want to remain part of the EU but increasingly clearly London doesn't.

"Why should Scotland leave such an important issue to Tories obsessed with isolating the UK from the rest of Europe? An independent Scotland will continue in European Union membership, as honorary director general of the European Commission Graham Avery said. We look forward to an independent Scotland being a friend and ally of the United States, as we will be with the rest of the UK and also look forward to the day when Scotland can play a full part in meeting the many challenges facing our interconnected world."

Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran said: "Madeleine Albright now adds her name to a long list of international figures who have expressed their concern about Scotland separating from the rest of the UK. From her time at the top table of the world's decision making forums, and as one of the foremost progressive American politicians, she knows that the way to make your voice heard and to bring about change around the world is to work together with friends and allies.

"The challenges that we will face over the next generation - from rebuilding the global economy to tackling terrorism - call for us to bind together, and not break apart. Scotland has a strong voice in the world now, as part of the UK, and Alex Salmond and the SNP want to put this at risk."

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