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Scotland Calling: Foreign policy push, slavery reparations, Istanbul adventures and Olympic glory

Scotland Calling

Our weekly look at international news from a Scottish perspective, Scotland’s place in the world, and stories about people who make our communities their home.

In the footsteps of William Wallace: Political parties and universities unite for new foreign policy initiative

There’s a lot of discussion focused around the constitution and whether Scotland should have its own distinctive foreign policy or not. Now, a group of the country’s leading universities – backed by the Scottish Government, Scottish Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats – are set to launch a new think tank called the Scottish Council on Global Affairs.

“The idea is to put expertise on international affairs at the disposal of public policy” explains Professor Peter Jackson from the University of Glasgow.

“But there’s also an important role to play which is to explain Scotland to the world and even more importantly the world to Scotland.

Scotland has had a foreign policy doctrine dating back to the days of William Wallace in the 13th century, when he wrote to the Hanseatic League – the European Union of its time – to let them know that Scotland was open for business.

These days the country is represented overseas in major capitals by Scottish Government diplomats and a network of Scotland House hubs that bring together businesses, arts and academia under one roof.

“From a Scottish foreign policy perspective we’re deeply affected by the international community around us whether we like it or not” explains Stephen Gethins from the University of St. Andrews.

Read more about the new Scottish Council in our story here.

News in brief

  • An alliance of more than 100 organisations is demanding that trawlers be banned from fishing within three miles of Scotland’s coasts. Read more.
  • Double vaccinated travellers from the US and the EU can now travel to Scotland without quarantining. Read more.
  • An appeal has been launched to find host families to house young refugees in Perth and Kinross, including some who have escaped human trafficking and war. Read more.
  • The owners of Scotland’s first distilled alcohol-free spirit have secured major export deals to Canada and Australia. Read more.
Verene Shepherd

Should Scotland take the lead on talks about slave trade reparations?

A respected author, academic and activist is urging the Scottish Government to engage more with discussions about paying reparations for historical slave trade atrocities.

Verene Shepherd, director of the Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies, has written to Nicola Sturgeon and education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville following the revelation that a north-east teacher training fund, called the Dick Bequest, had been founded using profits from slavery.

Professor Shepherd, who has previously served as chairwoman of the United Nations working group of experts on people of African descent, said this £1.7 million fund was “not the total obligation of Scotland to Jamaica”, and is calling on the SNP to enter into a conversation about ways to “right the wrongs of the past”.

You can read more at our story here. 

Tokyo Olympics
Kathleen Dawson in Tokyo.

Sporting success

Kirkcaldy swimmer Kathleen Dawson was “absolutely beaming” when she called home after striking gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 23-year-old was part of the Great Britain team that bagged first place this week in the inaugural mixed medley relay final in a new world record time. Read more.

  • Track star Laura Muir snatched Olympic 1500m silver after a stunning run in Tokyo. Read more.
  • St Johnstone briefly led against 10-man Galatasaray before securing a 1-1 Europa League draw in Istanbul this week. Read more.
  • Remember Liz McColgan? Here’s her remarkable story of how training runs in the streets of Dundee led to Seoul silver and Tokyo triumph. Read more.
  • Dundonian Suttie Smith trained to race in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics by running up and down flights of stairs in a tenement building! Read more.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid

Big planet, small country: How can Scotland make its voice heard on the world stage?

In case you missed it, here’s another chance to read our interview with Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid.

The Baltic leader explains how her country has become an effective player on the international stage, securing a seat on the United Nations Security Council, and offers some advice for Scotland ahead of the COP26 conference in Glasgow later this year.

Read the full story here. 

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