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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 January 2008, 17:37 GMT
Politicians discuss 'new Europe'
Scottish government Saltire
The Scottish Government plans to hold a debate on independence
Politicians from across the European Union have been meeting in Edinburgh to discuss independence in Europe.

Ministers from six governments which have a form of devolution attended the European Free Alliance (EFA) ministerial summit at Dynamic Earth.

The EFA is a grouping of political parties who believe in either full political independence or some form of devolution or self-government.

Welsh, Catalan, Basque, Flemish and Galician ministers were present.

The SNP's Linda Fabiani, Scotland's Europe minister, also attended the meeting.

The ministers signed a joint declaration aiming to establish cultural co-operation.

SNP MEP Ian Hudghton said it was hoped the meeting was the first in a series of similar gatherings. He said: "We had a pretty good session. We got together to exchange some ideas about where we go from here and how we make progress towards the real aim that we have to be independent in Europe."

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans said: "These are exciting and historic times when our parties and our nations are working together to create the new Europe."

Others attending the summit include Joan Manel Tresserras, the Catalan minister of culture; Tontxu Campos, the Basque minister of education; Rhodri Glyn Thomas, the Welsh heritage minister; Bert Anciaux, the Flemish minister for youth, culture sports and heritage; and Anxela Bugallo, the Galician minister for culture and sport.

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