SCOTLAND wants to be at the heart of Europe helping to deal with shared problems, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister addressed the European Green Party Council in Glasgow setting out her vision of an independent Scotland working with European neighbours.

She said that people with progressive values need to stand up and be counted as the far right gains popularity across Europe.

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Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland may lie at the edge of Europe, but it has always been and wants to remain at its heart.

“As Europe grapples with the defining issues of our age, the largest refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War, the growth in inequality and the impact of climate change, now more than ever independent nations across Europe must work together.”

She told the gathering of Greens from across the continent that the last year has been one of tumultuous change.

She added: “Support for far-right politicians is on the increase across Europe. That should be of huge concern to us wherever we live.

“I know many of you feel real anxiety about what is happening in your own countries.

“Now is the time for all of us who believe in progressive values to get out and fight for them like never before. Now is the time to stand up and be counted.”

The Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie welcomed his international colleagues to Glasgow and said he was backing the SNP on their mission to keep as many of the rights and benefits the EU afforded to Scots.

Mr Harvie and Ms Sturgeon both campaigned for a remain vote and want the wishes of the majority in Scotland who voted remain to be respected in the UK Brexit negotiations with the European Union.

He said the Greens and SNP had policy differences on many domestic issues but they were united in their ambition for Scotland’s interests to be protected within Europe.

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Mr Harvie said: “As Greens, we have our differences with the SNP government in Scotland. From time to time, we’ll continue to disagree, hopefully in a constructive spirit, without opportunism. 

But on this critical challenge, to safeguard Scotland’s place in Europe, we are in strong agreement. 

“As First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has made the case both here at home, and around Europe, for Scotland’s democratic decision to be respected, for our rights within Europe to be protected, for our voices to be heard.”