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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
'Be like us' message from Faroese
Tartan Army fans in Torshavn
Tartan Army fans enjoying Faroese hospitality earlier this year
The Faroe Islands could give lessons in prosperity to the Highlands and Islands, a lobby group has suggested.

The Policy Institute has published a paper, written by senior Faroese politician Oli Breckmann, saying that Highlanders should have a new approach.

Mr Breckmann said community control and cultural self-confidence could reinvigorate Scotland's remote regions.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it agreed there were lessons to be learned from the Faroese.

The policy paper suggested that devolving power to local communities could boost remote economies and increase cultural self-confidence, including the grass-roots promotion of Gaelic in appropriate areas.

"By motivating people to succeed at home, even the most barren outcrop can flourish," Mr Breckmann said.

He added that essential to the Faroe Islands' success story has been the flourishing of Faroese as the day-to-day language of business, politics, literature and leisure.

FAROE ISLANDS - KEY FACTS
Faroe Islands
Situated north west of Scotland
Composed of 18 islands
Coastline 1100km [687 miles]
Highest mountain 882m [2,883ft]
Population 48,359
National language Faroese
Main industry fishing
Established church Evangelical Lutheran

Mr Breckmann recognised that although the Highlands were performing well economically, growth was focused around Inverness while remote areas continued to suffer population decline.

The member of the conservative-thinking People's Party, said: "The Highlands faces a fork in the road.

"There is a route which offers some hope of material progress, with cultural integration into the rest of Scotland and Great Britain.

"Scenically attractive and economically prosperous, but essentially unremarkable.

"The alternative is a diffused, dynamic Highlands and Islands, exploiting its renewed cultural identity to achieve population growth and economic opportunity in the remotest areas.

The Policy Institute, which is committed to the promotion of liberal market values, said the paper was inspired by numerous visits Mr Breckmann made to the Highlands and Islands, most recently to Skye in May 2007.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it had met with the Faroese Prime Minister on several occasions to hold discussions on areas of mutual interest, including the economy and language.

A council spokesman added: "We would agree that there are lessons to be learnt from the example of the Faroese.

"Mr Breckmann's comments reflect much of our thinking in terms of developing the fragile economy of the islands by using the unique assets that we have such as the Gaelic language and culture, and our unrivalled renewable energy resources."


SEE ALSO
Major enterprise reforms outlined
26 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Salmond's economy experts meet up
21 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Regions and territories: Faroe Islands
06 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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