The purpose of independence is quite clear - it will mean decisions about what happens in Scotland and for Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is the people living, working and raising their families in the nation. No-one else can do a better job.
Our future, our resources, our opportunities will be in our hands and that means we will be able to make Scotland the country we all know it can be - a wealthier and fairer nation. A country that speaks with its own voice, stands taller in the world, and takes responsibility for its own future.
An independent Scotland will remain in the EU, which it has been an integral part of for almost 40 years, and we will retain the pound.
So there will continue to be open borders, shared rights, free trade and extensive co-operation.
Scotland is a land of unlimited potential. Our culture, history and reputation for innovation are renowned throughout the world, our universities are world class and our energy resources are unrivalled in Europe.
Indeed, on current figures we would be the sixth-most prosperous country per head in the developed world.
Scotland has around 25 per cent of Europe's potential offshore wind and tidal energy, and a 10th of Europe's wave power potential, in addition to our remaining oil and gas reserves.
Our latest food and drink export figures, including our national drink of Scotch whisky, show exports are at an all-time high of £5.4 billion and growing - and we have five of the top 200 universities in the world.
But the recent economic crisis has exposed the failings of the union - and Scotland needs the tools of an independent country to make sure that those vast resources and native talents are used to create a better and fairer society for all.
Our vision of Scotland is an ambitious one of a successful independent European nation, reflecting core Scottish values of fairness and opportunity, and promoting equality and social cohesion.
It is a vision of a Scotland with a new place in the world, participating fully in Europe and the wider community of nations on the basis of equality, responsibility and friendship.
However, this vision can only be achieved when Scotland becomes independent.
As long as responsibility for so many of the key policies affecting the lives of people here in Scotland remains at Westminster we cannot take the decisions for ourselves which are needed to fulfil that vision.
And nowhere has that been demonstrated more clearly than with the economy, where the stubborn refusal of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition to budge from its deeply damaging austerity programme has now been laid bare as Britain has slipped, all too predictably, into a double-dip recession.
It is those harsh economic statistics which disastrously undermine the claims by Scottish unionist politicians, especially Labour, that Scotland's best interests are served by rule from Westminster.
With responsibility for welfare we could join up benefits, education and employment services, and provide fair and decent support for those who need it.
And with our own voice in the world, we could represent Scotland's interests positively in the EU and more widely.
At present, decisions about defence and security are taken by the Westminster government with no formal role or consultation with the Scottish government or Parliament.
An independent Scotland would have full responsibility for defence, security and resilience, just like other nations.
We will have no closer partner than the UK in defending against threats to security and we will engage closely as sovereign, equal and co-operative allies in tackling such issues.
However, decisions on Scotland's defence priorities will rest with the people of Scotland and their elected representatives, meaning that never again can our servicemen and women be led into an illegal war like Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq.
And independence is the only constitutional solution which will ensure Trident nuclear weapons are no longer based in Scotland.
Above all, the people best placed to take decisions on all issues that affect Scotland are the people who choose to live and work in Scotland.
That is the fundamental truth which resonates powerfully with people across this nation as they look towards the autumn 2014 referendum that will give them the opportunity to make sure the choices affecting them and future generations are in their own hands.
If it is right for Scotland to have responsibility for the health service, police, housing, local government, schools, universities and much else besides, why should it not be right for us to have responsibility for pensions, income tax, our own huge natural resources and the right to our own voice in international affairs?
The compelling case for completing Scotland's home rule journey becomes even more powerful and persuasive when the nation has demonstrated over the last decade and more that it is capable of running so many of its own affairs so ably.
I want Scotland to be independent not because I think we are better than any other country but because I know we are just as good as any other country.
The choices open to the people of Scotland must not be limited by any Westminster-imposed strings. And when the time comes for the nation's most important decision in 300 years I am confident they will say Yes to an independent Scotland.
Alex Salmond is Scotland's First Minister.
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