Øli Breckmann is a senior politician from the Faroes (an island group midway between Scotland and Iceland), who has called on the Highlands and Islands to emulate the Faroese model. The Faroes, an archipelago of 18 islands and 49,000 people, are an autonomous region of Denmark. The Faroese speak their own language, which is a close cousin of Icelandic, and according to Mr Breckmann, it has been the language which has proven to be the cornerstone under their success. It is used in all aspects of daily life.
The parallel with the Highlands and Islands is that Gaelic is spoken in the Western Isles (and that description stretches from Islay to Lewis) as well as in large swathes of the Scottish mainland. It should be noted that Orkney and Shetland do NOT have that link, as their heritage is more Scandinavian oriented.
Mr Breckmann has suggested that the H&I use their cultural identity and difference from the rest of the UK to foster economic prosperity and a sense of regional pride.
Methinks this is an interesting observation of the situation that our area finds itself in. This part of Scotland is often compared to outlying areas of Scandinavia, with particularly local politicians looking towards the Lofoden archipelago in northwestern Norway as an example to follow. On the other hand, we have a Nationalist Scottish Government, trying to set Scotland apart from the rest of the UK. I wonder what their stance would be on a Highlands and Islands (the larger part of the Scottish landmass) on a Faroese footing, setting itself apart from the rest of Scotland on the strength of its cultural heritage.
It should be born in mind that Mr Breckmann is a politician on the right of the political spectrum, and his ideas have been publicised by the Policy Institute, which aims to promote a free market economy.
Source: BBC Scotland