Eastern European Governments (Engagement)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Executive what engagement it has had with Eastern European Governments. (S3O-13221)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Administration has established productive links with the Governments of central and eastern Europe. That includes meetings between the Scottish ministers and visiting heads of state, ministers, ambassadors and consuls general. I am also delighted to tell Parliament that the Romanian ambassador opened a new consular office in Edinburgh last month.

Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour

I am delighted to hear that. However, given the opportunities that stem from the priority status for funding of those countries, I am surprised that the Government has not worked harder to develop enterprise and civic friendships. Maybe I will withdraw the point about civic friendships in the light of what the minister has just said, but I am thinking of countries such as Bulgaria and Hungary, particularly given the recent development involving jet2.com, which the minister’s colleague launched just last week. There are celtic connections in Bulgaria, and there has been a request from that country for help, particularly in relation to serious organised crime.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I reassure the member that we have extensive and regular contacts with a number of countries. She should remember that three countries are represented here by career diplomats—Poland, Romania and Ukraine—and that we have honorary consuls and consuls general of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia. We were pleased to meet the Czech ambassador recently, and the Czech foreign affairs committee is here in the Parliament today. We have been discussing a number of issues, particularly in relation to energy, electricity and business. I therefore reassure the member on that point.