GEORGE Kerevan’s article (It’s time for us to channel the spirit of 1968 to fashion a revitalised future, The National, January 8) ended with an inspiring quotation: “Be realistic: demand the impossible” and I recommend it to the leaders of the Scottish, UK and EU countries and to all of us who want 2018 to bring an improvement in our lives.

In a small way I was involved in helping Czech students – who had been working in Europe during the summer of the Alexander Dubcek’s attempt to free his country from the oppression of the USSR – find asylum in Scotland. Their stories were remarkably similar and very touching: when they phoned home their parents advised them not to return home but to stay in Europe to be free. When, with the help of student representatives and principals of the universities in which they were accepted to continue their studies, I found them their basic necessities – accommodation, English tuition and financial help – I believed, absolutely, that I was integrating them into a free society: that, perhaps for the first time in their lives, they would live in a democracy.

I can no longer make this claim for countries in the EU because what passes for freedom now is limited by our acceptance of the injustice and inequalities inherent in that Union. Dubcek’s supporters faced the force of Soviet tanks in the streets and, as Mr Kerevan reminds us, after he was “invited” to Moscow to discuss matters, he returned to Czechoslovakia a crushed man no longer able or willing to champion freedom.

While the degree of violence inflicted upon Catalans who dared to elect politicians who espoused their desire for independence from Spanish rule stopped short of bringing in tanks, the principle was identical: any departure from the dominant country’s rule would be met with brutal force. Now, despite a second election which returned a majority vote in favour of independence-supporting candidates, the situation is that Carles Puigdemont cannot return to take up his elected position for fear of arrest and other leading Catalan politicians remain in prison because the Spanish Government-backed judges have decided that if they are released they will continue to promote “sedition”. It is an outrage, but it has been allowed to happen because no country, no politician has had the courage to support them.

Carolyn Leckie accepted as much when she wrote “We can’t influence events on the Iberian Peninsula” (My New Year Wish for a fresh drive for indyref2, The National, January 8), but not only can we, we must make every attempt to do so.

The EU is an anti-democratic house of cards built to ensure that the financial dominance of international banks and multi-national companies is never effectively challenged. Since the financial crash of 2008 the world has woken up to the extent of the criminal activities of major banks, we have learned about tax havens, about multi-national companies exploiting laws to avoid paying taxes. We know now about the extraordinarily favourable terms and conditions and bonuses enjoyed by CEOs and the shift of the burden of tax payment from the rich to the poor. All of these measures are supported by, and are integral to, membership of the EU. The EU must, therefore, crush any country which rejects its political ideology.

The Declaration of Arbroath famously stated: “It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself”. Freedom and democratic government should be the aim of all of our politicians in 2018 and beyond, not going cap in hand to the EU’s oligarchs.

Lovina Roe