Alyn Smith SNP MEP was invited to address the German Green Party conference in Muenster this month. Following a stirring speech in German, he received a standing ovation in support of his message of co-operation, solidarity and Europe. Read on for a translation and the full video:
Dear colleagues, dear friends, thank you.
It’s wonderful to be here, I thank you for the invitation.
I wanted to start with a lighter note, a joke – ‘Hello, I bring you greetings from the North, winter is coming’
But I’m afraid it feels a little too close to the truth to be funny in the times we live in.
I’m delighted to be here, I feel very much among friends, with so many familiar faces. The Scottish National Party, my party, has worked with the Green group in the European Parliament for over 20 years. We have a common agenda. We have great colleagues – we have Jan Philipp, we have Reinhard, Michael, Sven, Rebecca, Martin, Maria, Ska, Barbara, Terry, and Helga – and I would thank you personally for your solidarity over the last few months.
Brexit is not an interesting academic exercise. It is not a funny little thing. It is a punch to my stomach. It offends me intellectually, it offends me politically, and it saddens me greatly.
The prospect that my family could be removed from our family of nations – our slightly dysfunctional family of nations – but a family nonetheless – against our will hurts me deeply, to my core.
Within the European Parliament, we have a good co-operation. An honest co-operation. A mature co-operation, a productive co-operation. How modern. How European.
It’s fitting also to reflect today, on the 11th November, Armistice Day, when we reflect on what can happen when politics goes wrong.
We must remember the lessons of our past.
We have, of course, also a very warm relationship with the Scottish Greens. The Scottish Greens are also in favour of Scottish independence, and we work with them closely at home where we can co-operate.
(Alyn Smith switches to German)
But we are also in Germany, so...
Dear colleagues, dear friends,
I am here today to share a message with you all - not only a message about Scotland, but rather a message about Europe.
We live in strange times. Much is at stake. Too many people, too many citizens are angry, are fighting and feel excluded from politics. This paves the way for politicians with simple answers, for the politics of division and, unfortunately, politics of hatred. We must remember that the EU is the best conflict-prevention mechanism ever found.
If we do not learn from the lessons of history, we will repeat those mistakes.
We have seen in the EU Referendum in the UK that it is possible to reverse the course of history. That is not a solely British phenomenon, I see the same ingredients in all our countries, including here, in Germany.
Yes, a different Europe is possible. Yes, Europe and the EU are not perfect. But I am proud to work together with so many of you, to make this Europe happen. Theoretically there are surely thousands of models we can think of for Europe, but there is only one Europe that exists, and that Europe is under serious threat.
We have no time, as we say in English, to discuss the curtains' colour when the roof is on fire.
There is a real division between people and the EU. "Europe" is always somewhere else, and a little strange to us. We have, we all have to be the ones who build bridges.
We must defend the very idea of multilateralism, as it cannot be seen as self-evident. Blaming and shaming are simple. Working together and showing solidarity is more difficult. But important. Because the threats that we are all facing are greater than any of our countries.
Climate change, the refugee crisis, the financial crisis, the fight against terrorism and organised crime, all can only be resolved by working together.
And it is this principle, upon which working together is better than division, is now endangered, in all our countries, across Europe.
We also have challenges at home. Scotland is not a small region. We are one of the oldest countries in Europe, 5.5 million people, and we have clearly expressed that we want to remain in our European family.
My Government and myself want our country to be independent, but that is another question, which we have to address. But I also want my country to work together with our friends and neighbours, to win our shared challenges together.
I do not know what the future will bring for Scotland, the UK or Europe. But I know that we will need our friends. As I said in the European Parliament: "Scotland did not let you down, do not let Scotland down!"
Together, together we have so much more to do!