Scotland will be allowed to continue its membership of the European Union after independence because of "common sense" and mutual self-interest, according to the Deputy First Minister.
Nicola Sturgeon outlined her belief that the rest of the EU would not eject the country, assuming a Yes vote in the 2014 referendum, in response to a growing argument on points of law.
"I am very deliberately relying, not simply on arguments of law or process, but on arguments of common sense, reality and mutual self-interest," she said in a statement to the Scottish Parliament. Firstly, the EU is an organisation that welcomes new members. It wants others to join. It most certainly would not want to see existing parts of its territory leave."
She appeared before MSPs after calls to answer questions raised by Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the EC, the EU's ruling body. He suggested on Monday that it is "obvious" Scotland would have to reapply if voters decide to leave political union with the UK.
Ms Sturgeon focused her argument on the political practicalities rather than the view of the president. She also referred to the adaptable nature of the union which found ways to adopt the former East Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
"My second reason for believing that Scotland would continue in membership of the EU is that it is overwhelmingly in the EU's interests for us to do so," she said.
"And by that I don't just mean that to go through the complicated process of putting Scotland outside the EU, just for us to be readmitted later, would be - as Graham Avery, an honorary director general of the commission, said - not feasible.
"I mean that Scotland's vast assets: fishing, oil and gas, renewables; our value as an export market to other member states; our education system enjoyed by thousands of EU students every year; and our status as home to tens of thousands of EU citizens, mean that the economic, social and political interests of the EU would be best served by Scotland remaining in continuous membership."
Scotland has about 90% of the EU's oil and gas reserves. It had thousands of students from other parts of the EU enrolled in higher education in 2010-11, she said.
"We are an integral member of the EU and it is not credible to argue that the other nations of the EU would not want to retain access to the vast array of resources and opportunities that Scotland brings to the EU table," she said.