Meeting Regarding Telum
Premier Bass had been in the conference room for the past hour by himself for extra preparation ahead of the scheduled meeting time with Commissioner Arcturus, ECWA Director Huntly and the group of Inimican representatives that would include the Emperor. He was still trying to make sense of what transpired on December 15th in Telum. Events had escalated so quickly and out of all the reports it is still unclear what caused the protests to turn violent which subsequently led to Soman gas being used against Inimican civilians. He needed to find out the missing elements of the story but also wanted to ensure that Inimicus would have a clear path to falling in line with the regulations of the Chemical Weapons Act.
This meeting was important to bring peaceful closure to the so-called Telum Incident. If the meeting failed who knows what the member nations would do in response to Inimicus, two nations had already expressed interest in sanctions. Not only that but Inimicus seemed to be on the verge of civil war itself. An attempt had been made on the life of the Emperor recently. The Premier needed to find away to avoid all of this, he needed to find away to stop the violence because the region had experienced enough instability in the past month and didn't need any more.
Bass' silent contemplation was interrupted when he heard a knock at the door. The meeting would begin soon.
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The slender, bespectacled face of Calvin Huntly appeared, poking around the door.
"Ah Premier Bass! My dear fellow, how very nice to meet you in person. I'm not late, am I? I pride myself on my punctuality! May I sit down?"
Taking his seat next to the the Premier, Mr Huntly brought out several documents from his black briefcase: numerous copies of the Chemical Weapons Act (2006) for the meeting participants to study, along with a brief outline of what he wanted out of this meeting. First and foremost, of course, was to determine once and for all what actually took place in Telum. Without this information, any action on the part of the EU would be impossible. The European media could perhaps be accused of exaggeration and sensationalism when it came to this issue, especially seeing as though hard facts were few and far between.
Defence Commissioner Livia Arcturus peeked through the almost-closed chink of the door. "Ah, gentlemen! I thought I heard someone speaking... Blasted these identical doors -- I arranged the meeting to be held in this less-used wing of the office for safety's sake, and realized only too late that I have never been here myself..."
She slipped in and greeted both men with a firm handshake. "Everything should be in order for the Inimican delegation to arrive", she said with a more hushed tone, shuffling through her papers and digital notes. "The Europol Security has temporarily blocked all traffic from the roads the Emperor's motorcade will be travelling. The number of security personnel has been doubled within the Commission building; we have air surveillance as well as additional canine units for bomb detection. Sniper units have been positioned on the rooftops. While this may seem like an exaggeration, I wish to take no further risks with these talks. The Emperor's life has come under threat very recently, and though he was fortunate enough to survive this attack, it is possible his enemies may try again. Protestors have also been kindly instructed to a slightly greater distance than normally. I have been informed that there are a few thousand of them altogether, and many of them are Aureans and Corelians, who usually are not known for throwing riots. I have been assured that the police has everything under control, and that we should have no trouble besides what we bring to these talks ourselves."
Sitting down, she concluded: "I believe we are ready to receive our Inimican guests."
Under the heavy security cover established for his arrival, the Emperor of Inimicus arrived at Europolis. He and his delegates (Prime Minister Wilfred Cocx, Forgein Minister Sarah Gladwell and Security Minister George Williams) took place in the room.
"I am happy to be here. Let us get this meeting started. Let me begin with a complete explanation of the story", the Emperor said.
"On the 15th of December, Inimicus's fiftieth nuclear power plant was finished. We are a big fan of nuclear power, and see its potential in this world. Although most nations do not use nuclear power that much, Inimicus keeps, and will keep, their plants active for at least twenty more years.
"The celebration of this magnificent achievement took place in our capital, Telum. Of course, demonstrators were also there. These environmental (or mental, as I call them often) organisations have been bugging me and the government since the Empire was founded. They saw the completion as a chance of large-scale protests against us, the government.
"More and more activists were drawn to main road, where the celebration took place. We called the Military Police, the Riot Police and the Imperial Civil Guard to keep them at bay. Of course, there were already police officials at the spot, but not far enough to counter the activists"
The Emperor sipped his coffee, then went on:
"Then, as if ordered, the activists pulled out hammers and small pickaxes. They completely destroyed the tarmac on main road, and threw it at the police. I and the other government officials were evacuated immediately, while the police advanced along the road.
"From this moment on, everything I tell you comes from a police testemony. The rioters fought back against the police, while the Imperial Civil Guard tried to disperse the rioters, making it easier to apprehend them or scare them away.
"The rebels kept fighting, however. The police used tabun gas, a tear gas, to drive them off. However, this did not have the effect it was supposed to have. That is why the authoroties legalised the use of the Soman gas."
The other Inimician officials poured in some more coffee for the Emperor and the other delegates.
"The soman gas killed an estimated twenty-five rioters, and wounded several more.
"In total, about twenty security officials were killed, and lots more injured. A total of sixty-six rioters died, and hundreds more were injured.
"Let me say here that I did not have anything to do with the use of the nerve agents. For that, you will have to ask questions to my fellow delegate, George Williams"
The Emperor sighed. He rubbed his shoulder, which was visibly wrapped in bandages after the attack a couple of days ago.
Commissioner Arcturus listened very intently and took several notes while the Inimican leadership presented its case.
"First, Your Majesty, allow me to begin by saying that I am happy that you were fortunate enough to survive the callous attempt against your life", she said to the Emperor. "Your Majesty ought to know that under no circumstances does this Office nor this Union accept such violence, and we do condemn this attack. Furthermore, I am pleased that despite this event that was undoubtedly distraughtful, you arrived in Europolis personally."
Turning to the Security Minister, she continued: "Minister Williams... if I have understood correctly, the order to utilize the Soman nerve gas against the protestors came from a Mr Camiel James. He was previously mentioned as the holder of the office of Minister of Security and Police in Inimicus. Am I to assume that you are Mr James's successor as the Security Minister? -- I would like to inquire what has come of Mr James, and about this order that was given to the officials containing the protest-turned-riot. There exists many a way to subdue a person with nonlethal means, such as rubber bullets and water cannons, to name but a few. Conventional weaponry -- that is to say, firearms -- are also relatively accurate and can be used with precision. The spread of gas, however, is extremely difficult to control, and it can lead to high number of... collateral damage. Why this particular weapon was selected?"
Finally, she turned to Emperor William once more. "Your Majesty, I am trying to understand the undercurrents of this situation in Inimicus -- get the big picture, as the saying goes. Pray tell, have I reached the correct conclusion if I presume that these environmental activists Your Majesty prefers to refer as... "mentals"... are rather marginalized in the Empire and have little option to voice their opinion? As said, I am doing my best to comprehend the political status quo of Inimicus, a nation that so far has been relatively unknown to me."
The Emperor enjoyed a dry biscuit while listening to the honoured Commisioner. He then replied:
"May I thank the Commisioner for her concern on my health. These terrorists have, except for two of them, all been arrested. They will be put on trial in the coming days."
Minister Williams then continued:
"About Camiel James. He has been... well... removed from office after the use of the gas. Both international pressure as well as internal critisism became too much for him. He stepped down. We kept this classified as we did not want to express our weaknesses..."
To answer the final question, the Emperor claimed:
"Well, environmental activists. What good is to say about them except that they dare to express their opinion. I have never liked nor favoured these activists. They fight for something they cannot realise: a green Inimicus. Inimicus has never had a 'nice' nature, nor is it very friendly towards the environment.
"Of course they express their opinion, as the event about which we're talking about right now stages."
Emperor, I have a few questions to add. I can see that no love is lost between you and the environmentalists, but about how large of a group would you say that the environmentalists are in your nation? This particular protest had thousands of people participating so I guess I would like to know how big of a following they have total. Or to rephrase the question on environmentalists, if a poll was held for the public to voice their opinion on building a new nuclear power plant how many would be for and how many would be against?
News reports and this discussion have also referred to some of the violent protesters as "rebels". Are the environmentalists an active militant group with the goal of overthrowing the government? And have they done something like this before?
Finally with regards to the Soman gas, are government security forces still producing Soman?
"In addition to Premier Bass's inquiries, I would like to know what has come of Mr Camiel James, and if any sort of legal investigation into his actions has been started", Arcturus said. "Also, I am equally interested in learning more about these activists. The Empire of Inimicus has only recently established itself following a civil war, so from this point of view, the Telum Incident becomes even more concerning. I would see a dialogue between political factions at this point more beneficial to the overall stability and peace of the nation instead of marginalization and radicalization that may too easily follow, leading to further bloodshed."
The Emperor, after finishing his sixth cup of coffee and pouring in another one, tried to answer the questions as best he could:
"The environmentalists and the government indeed have no good relationship. The cabinet, and me in person, are right-winged conservative, while the environmetnalists are left-winges progressives.
"Indeed, the protestors were thousands strong. We estimate the environmentalist groups around 7,000 strong in total. The left-wing democrat party, the Progressive Party for a Better Inimicus (PPBI) has seven out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives, and three out of 75 in the States-General Chamber (The ruling party, the PNP (Party of National Pride) has 78 out of 150 and 38 out of 75 seats).
"In the case of a referendum on nuclear energy, nearly every PNP voter would vote 'for', and other parties in the Parliament favour nuclear energy, as well. The people would say yes to nuclear power.
"The enviromentalists were a group which was struggling for power in the Civil War, but they were small in numbers (as I said, only around 7,000), and didn't play a big role in the War. Almost all Inimician citizens have some form of weaponry in their homes, whether it be a knife or a gun. The cabinet has planned a gun law which will make civilians to give their guns to the state, and in return, they will recieve a small amount of money.
"The activists will most surely have weapons in their possesion. If they do not turn in their arms, police will come and take them away from them."
"The Inimician government has never produced any gas, it was found, stored in a bunker in the capital. We have never thought about producing any chemical weapons"
"Now, I think Commisioner Arcturus' question could better be answered by the PM"
Mr Cocx said: Well, Mr James, as said before, has resigned from office. He couldn't bear the shame of using the gas. We have replaced him with a more capable man, Mr Williams.
"The government will continue to improve security as best as possible. With the upcoming gun law, huge steps will be taken."
Glancing quizzically at Premier Bass, Arcturus enunciated with great care: "I believe there is something the European Union can do for you, Your Majesty, and for all the people of Inimicus, no matter what their political view is. I think we all around this table can wholeheartedly agree that nothing would be more detrimential than the continuation of bloodshed in the country that has already seen so much destruction during its civil war. We have learned that there are strong emotions at work on both sides of this feud, and at such times, mistakes are easily made, and rectifying them can prove to be an arduous task indeed."
Sipping from her cup of coffee, Arcturus laced her fingers together and offered: "I think both Premier Bass and I would offer ourselves, or any other official of this Union, to help mediate this conflict between the Imperial government and the environmentalists. A diplomatic resolution of the situation would be in everyone's best interest, would you not say?." Almost as an afterthought that seemed pleasing to her, she added: "I am also certain that Commissioner for Internal Affairs Dominik Frank could be appointed for this job, should Your Majesty so wish, for I know he is a most capable man for such work."
The Commissioner's brow arched. "And now that the issue of the origins of the Soman gas have been cleared, I do not think Your Majesty has any objections whatsoever for the European Chemical Weapons Authority to help you inspect, catalogue, and safely dispose of any and all such armaments that exist in your country?"
Finally, Arcturus proposed the following: "To put this lamentable incident behind us, and reinforce the reputation of Inimicus as a glorious and trustworthy nation among her numerous European neighbours, would Your Majesty agree that Mr Camiel James's role in the Telum Incident could be openly and without rancour examined by the European Court of Justice -- for the benefit of everyone?"
Forgein Minister Sarah Gladwell, who had been reasonably quiet in the meeting, said:
"Of course we prefer a diplomatic solution to further bloodshed. We would be honoured if Dominik Frank would try to settle these affairs with us.
"However,", she continued after finishing her espresso, "we should be careful. The environmentalists have already tried to assasinate our Majesty once, as you have heard. Sitting around the table with them might provoke uncertain reactions. We should make sure adequate security is in place, when these negotiations take place. We do not want our officials to be hurt."
George Williams continued: "We would love to get rid of the filthy gas that has caused so much bloodshed. We would be glad if the EU would support us in this.
"Mr James, as said before, is a sad case. But, if the EU wants it, we will track him down and bring him to court."
Premier Bass, perked up at the signs of good faith cooperation made by the Inimican Representatives. He started, "Mr. Williams I am pleased that you will allow us to oversee the destruction of the Soman gas in order to fall in line with the Chemical Weapons Act. I am sure Director Huntly will be able to set up a timetable for you to achieve this goal and arrange for any in person meetings that might have to take place in the future."
"As far as the possible trial of Mr. James I think this would go a good ways to maybe repairing some of the trust lost from the people of Inimicus."
"Finally, while I'm sure Commissioner Frank would have no problems going to mediate a meeting amongst the environmentalists and the government, I"m not sure what such a meeting would accomplish. It's been made fairly clear that the environmentalists have next to 0 voting influence, only numbering in the several thousands. So they will never be able to achieve their political goals outright it would take a lot more time and many more people on their side because as of right now they are not a solid representative portion of Inimicus. However, I do think a meeting clearing the air on contempt of one another might be beneficial and even though they are a small portion of the nation they do deserve the same human rights as others. This also means that the environmentalists must respect the law as well. If both of your groups can agree to it then there shouldn't be too much more of a problem."
The Emperor, finishing his eighth cup, said:
"I would want such a meeting. The environmentalists have to be heard, although, indeed, their words are limited. I think, if the Commisioners will allow me, I will have to return to my residence, and discuss this matter another time. My wound is hurting. Good day to you"
Thank you Emperor for meeting with us all here to handle this situation. We will be keeping track of the work you do with Director Huntly to fall in line with the regulations set forth by the EBCWA. The safe destruction of Soman gas stores is of great importance to us.
Also please do keep us informed on the whereabouts of Mr. James as it will be fair for him to face trial either in Inimicus or in the ECoJ.
If you would like a mediator for the talks with the environmentalists then I'm sure Commissioner Frank, Commissioner Arcturus or myself would be more than happy to meet with you all. Regional safety and stability is a priority of ours.
Thanks again and I do hope your wound heals up nicely.
"I am pleased that the EU is happy with our answers, and if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask!"
"This was a most prolific meeting for both sides, I dare say. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to meet you in person, Your Majesty; the same, of course, goes with the rest of the delegation", Arcturus said. "I look forward to seeing the results of the mediation and the work of Director Huntly, and the proceedings of Mr James. Swift recovery, Your Majesty."
The Inimcian delegates shook the hands of the Comminsioners and their assistants, and left the room.
The case of Mr James is now to be inspected by the European Court.