SCOTLAND has taken an opposing stance to most countries over Catalonia's declaration of independence from Spain.

While many prominent nations including Britain and the US rejected the independence vote and said it was crucial that unity in Spain was upheld, the Scottish Government said it "understands and respects the position of the Catalan government" and that the region's people "must have the ability to determine their own future".

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, reiterated the view of the EU — and the wider international community — that they would not recognise an independent Catalonia.

But he also urged Madrid to show restraint as it seeks to impose direct rule.

 “For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force,” Mr Tusk said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The UK does not and will not recognise the Unilateral Declaration of Independence made by the Catalan regional parliament. It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts," she said.

"We continue to want to see the rule of law upheld, the Spanish Constitution respected, and Spanish unity preserved."

Scottish external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "While Spain has the right to oppose independence, the people of Catalonia must have the ability to determine their own future.

"Today's Declaration of Independence came about only after repeated calls for dialogue were refused.

"Now, more than ever, the priority of all those who consider themselves friends and allies of Spain should be to encourage a process of dialogue to find a way forward that respects democracy and the rule of law. The imposition of direct rule cannot be the solution and should be of concern to democrats everywhere.

The United States said it supported the Spanish government.

"Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government's constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

France's president Emmanuel Macron said he supports Spain's Prime Minister saying "there is a rule of law in Spain with constitutional rules. Mariano Rajoy wants these rules to be respected and he has my full support."

Scotland offers 'independent' Catalonia rare voice of international supportSteffen Seibert, spokesman for the German government, said the country does not support the Catalan declaration of independence.