New Year Message 2012
First Minister Alex Salmond has called on Scots to live up to their country's international reputation as a land of technological and scientific innovation and take control of their own destiny in his New Year message for 2012.
Quoting Hugh MacDiarmid, leader of the 20th century Scottish literary renaissance, the First Minister said:
For we ha'e faith in Scotland's hidden poo'ers,
The present's theirs, but a' the past and future's oors
Mr Salmond was speaking from the newly refurbished National Museum of Scotland and highlighted exhibits such as James Watt's steam engine, Alexander Fleming's Nobel Prize for the discovery of penicillin and John Logie Baird's television as examples of how Scotland shaped the modern world.
He said these past achievements offered a glimpse of the future, in which Scotland was placed to be a leader in renewable technology and medical and environmental advances. Scotland's reputation in these areas was validated by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former US vice president Al Gore and China's current Vice Premier Li, all of whom had praised Scottish innovation during visits in the last year.
Mr Salmond added that Scotland needed the political and economic power to make the most of these strengths and resources. He said:
"The Scottish people have shown a hunger for more powers in order to secure a fairer as well as a more prosperous future and I believe optimism has been chosen over pessimism.
"My priority as First Minister as we go into 2012 is to ensure all Scots have the security and fulfilment that comes from the opportunity to work. That's why we are investing in a range of capital projects to create jobs, guaranteeing an education or training place for every 16-19 year old and delivering 25,000 modern apprenticeships a year.
"With greater powers we could do so much more and we would be much less at risk from the UK's counterproductive obsession with austerity at all costs.
"Next year will mark a further shift in the debate on Scotland's future as we move towards a referendum on independence in the second half of the parliament.
"I am confident that Scotland will decide to take full control of our own destiny and join the international community in our own right.
"We can then work together to make the most of the incredible strengths that our country possesses - the skills of our people, the richness of our heritage, the beauty of our landscape, the wealth of our resources. We have a bright future to match our illustrious past."
In the 'Shaping our World' section of the NMS, Mr Salmond said:
"Logie Baird, Alexander Fleming, James Watt and others shaped the modern world. Scotland can do this again. Our universities, colleges and scientific institutions are working on cures for the illnesses that beset humankind as well as the renewable energy machines and environmental initiatives that will make human progress compatible with the future of our planet. Scotland once again can be the land that shapes the world into the future.
"When China's Vice Premier Li visited us in 2011, he started his speech in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle with the words 'It's great to be in Scotland, Land of Invention'. We had a similar message from former Vice President Gore of the United States when he came to a renewable conference and said Scotland was leading the world in the deployment of marine energy, and also from Kofi Annan in Glasgow who said our medical research could help millions.
"So the image of Scotland as a land of innovation is shared and validated by international observers. We must now live up to that.
"If we are going to shape the future we must make some changes to the present - and that means taking more control over our destiny."
Mr Salmond finished his address with a traditional New Year Message:
"Wherever you are, I wish you a happy Hogmanay, and all the best for the year ahead."