Martin Hannan: Our hearts are with you, Kiev

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There’s a country on the fringe of Europe which desperately wants to join the European Union on its own account but its big neighbour doesn’t want it to.

That country has “nuclear assets” on its soil and is part of an arrangement in which other countries are pledged to defend its territory.

That country’s capital also has twin cities across Europe and they would all like to see their twins prosper as part of the European Union.

It is a potentially very rich country with tremendous natural assets and would be a worthy member of the European Union if its neighbour would just stop interfering.

Part of the trouble is that quite a lot of its population are actually either from that neighbour or have close family ties to people in the neighbouring country, and right now that neighbour is not listening to the common people of both countries who just want to get on with life as friends.

In the contexts I have just mentioned, the difference between Ukraine and Scotland is that we’re not independent, and we don’t have Vladimir Putin’s bully boys on our soil. And this SNP member will concede that not even David Cameron would send in troops if the Scottish people declared for independence and the rest of the UK voted to leave the EU. He wouldn’t, would he?

It’s probably escaped most people’s notice, but Kiev and Edinburgh are twin cities, and have been since 1989. We are one of 39 official twins or sister cities that Kiev has connected with over the years. It’s a big club with big names – Paris, Beijing, Rome and Athens are in there – and this is the only British city twinned with Kiev, so we should be taking more of an interest in events there.

Somewhere in the Ukrainian capital is an exhibition entitled Edinburgh Life which was taken out there by the old district council almost 25 years ago. For all I know, it may still be on show, but is most likely stuck in some council cellar in Kiev.

We have not heard a lot from the present Edinburgh City Council on its concerns about events in our twin city. Nevertheless, Edinburgh citizens send their best wishes to the people of Kiev, and hope that no further blood is shed in Ukraine, though I suspect that is a forlorn hope in Crimea, at least.

What is unfolding in Ukraine is a tragedy and a disaster that could yet engulf us all, and there’s not anything any of us can do. We must just hope that men and women of goodwill and good sense get round the table and start talking before the real skirmishing, and the inevitable shooting, starts in Crimea.

At the moment, I know there are people in Edinburgh who are deeply worried about what will happen to their relatives in Ukraine, and our hearts go out to them – it is always ordinary people who suffer when nations clash.

As the News reported last week, Ukrainian people and the descendants of Ukrainians here in Edinburgh knew people who were killed in the violence that preceded the toppling of the former president.

We can only pray with them that no more people die in our twin city and elsewhere in Ukraine.

Lingerie photos a national disgrace

JUST a footnote to the sad story of Alison Cuthbert, whose husband Ian distributed pictures of her in her lingerie. The New York Daily News picked up the story and its website is still running it, but it describes Ian Cuthbert as English and “living in England” despite quoting parts of the story from the “Edinburgh News” – presumably this publication.

It is not just in parts of the British media that when they say England, they really mean the United Kingdom. The sooner we are the independent nation of Scotland, the quicker people globally will realise we are not part of England.

Top marks for car sales team

For the first time in ages I have been involved in the purchase of a new car, and my attitude to car sales people has totally altered.

The sales team at AF Noble & Son near Penicuik could not have been nicer and more efficient, and Jim Rowan in particular is a top man.

Standard Life’s investments tell real story

THE threat from Standard Life to move operations out of Scotland worries me not a jot. Indeed, I would be more worried if big businesses were not making post-referendum contingency plans.

The blame for any putative exodus can be laid at the doors of Messrs Cameron, below, Osborne, Clegg, Balls and Miliband, with their blanket ban on a currency union. Without their “No”, there would be no need for Standard Life or anyone else to think about leaving.

Just one query for Standard Life – if you are really serious about leaving Scotland, why are you preparing to spend tens of millions on the former Scottish Provident building in St Andrew Square, plus plenty other investments you have made here? Something doesn’t add up.