Halsberg-Althanian Dominion Meeting
((OOC: Chronologically, this meeting takes place after the one with Barrington.))
1103 - Crighton International Aerodrome, Hellenburg Collective, Halsberg. 25 Miles From Thurston.
"Two minutes until they arrive, sir".
The High President was looking forward to this meeting. It had been a long while since the Halsbergian government had met with any of its direct neighbours, and he was glad he was the High President to see such a meeting. That really should take the wind out of Defreese's sails, he thought glumly, but it won't. Politics, eh? It can turn your best friends into your worst enemies, and vice versa. It was still hard to believe Archie would do something like this, after the times they've shared...
Best focus on the here and now. The newest member of the EU was certainly a fascinating one. While they'd obviously been aware of each other's existence prior to joining the EU, it was only now Halsberg and the Althanian Dominion were beginning to form proper relations with each other. Despite thousands of years of being neighbours, little is known about the Althanians and their country, aside of course from what Commissioner Barrington learned during his stop.
"Nervous?" asked Harrison Baylor, the chosen representative of the Hellenburg Collective. How on earth they got anything done in that commonwealth was beyond him, seeing as though every single citizen can just turn up to the parliament and vote on whatever they like. He was a strange little man. He was bald and bespectacled, with a face a bit like a beaver.
"No, not really. When you're the leader of an EU member state, this exact situation, standing in the airfield, waiting for the foreign dignitary to arrive, seems to repeat itself over and over. You get used to it."
The small plane bearing the flag of the Althanian Dominion had landed and was taxiing towards them. The Althanian Dominion had been a name heard in Halsberg from travelling merchants and players for thousands of years. The flag, or at least the symbols that were emblazoned on it, have long been seen in the annals of the Halsbergian histories, yet little could be gleaned on what they represented until the practising Althanians arrived in country. The New Commonwealth of Golgosa, home to the vast majority of the polytheists, had sent its Minister for Spiritual Affairs Earle Dubose to represent their interests in the meeting.
The plane had come to a halt in front of the men. The door began its slow opening process.
"Showtime...", the High President announced.
Aureliana was extremely excited, it was her time visiting a nation outside Altha. Her entire life was spent in the Temples of Aecae, studying each god and its strengths and the sins it portrays. The pilot announced everyone to get ready to land and she smiled as big as she possibly could. She looked out the window trying to get a view of Halsberg below her and the plane. She was stunned by the beauty and looked directly to her adviser and her minister of foreign affairs Maximus Stephanos, who just smiled and nodded.
The plane soon landed and security also known as the Althan Guards, and helped clear the situation and helped with the taxi of the plane to the terminal. She immediately stood up as the door opened and security said it was clear to go.
She met the Halsbergian delegation with a minute or so, she bowed in the traditional way in Altha to the group, the high president specifically.
"It is an honor for me to visit your great nation, Mr. President." The Aureliana started, she motioned for a helper to hand her a small wooden box with various religious symbols on it, "Here is a token of the Althanian Dominion and of the Althanian Religion. May this bless our states relations for many years, and keep them healthy" she added as she gave the box to the High President and opening it to reveal a priceless medallion with various symbols on it.
"Now, where shall we begin?" she finished.
The High President accepted the gift gratefully, expressing his heartfelt thanks for such a priceless item. He passed it to an aide to be stored safely, and made a mental note to tell the people at the Thurston Museum to see if they could put it on display. As if something terrible had suddenly dawned on him, he turned to Aureliana, who still had such a massive smile on her face.
"Gifts...ah yes. I...um...I give you in return, air from my lungs." The High President blew air softly on Aureliana's face, hoping to god his breath smelt nice. Aureliana remained perfectly composed. She inhaled softly.
"How...how intimate", she said.
The High President gave a silent prayer of thanks and directed Aureliana towards the awaiting car.
"Perhaps we should travel to a more comfortable destination to discuss matters of state. No doubt we've got lots to talk about!"
On the inside Aureliana was freaked out, the gods had not prepared her for being breathed on, maybe its just a simple custom in Halsberg if that's the case I shouldn't insult them with being freaked out she decided. Instead she kept her posture and responded the only way she could,
She saw the look of pleasure and relief on the High President's face, and responded to his simple question.
"Yes that is a very good idea, and I agree many things to talk about many possibly which won't be solved with one meeting," she joked.
1234 - Conference Room 3, House of the King's Demons, Thurston, Halsberg.
The High President and Aureliana had just entered the room. Ever the gentleman, Solomon offered the visiting dignitaries the pick of the room's seats. Choosing one, Aureliana sat and was soon joined by the rest of the room's occupants. Bringing out the documents the Foreign Affairs Service had drawn up for him. He placed his mug of tea on them, using them as a coaster.
"I don't usually trust what they say anymore. Not after that whole thing with the URE. That was a bit iffy. Besides, I don't need any piece of paper, not when I'm with such a charming political leader. That journey from the airport was lovely. Anyhoo, down to business. What would you like to discuss first?"
Aureliana sipped a bit of coffee as the President was taking, and smiled when he finished, she was called charming? A bit of diplomatic flattery 101 to her, maybe she should have read that book Maximus gave her.
"Right then, well there are a wide variety of topics to discuss now, first off is a free trade agreement to boster already historic trade between our two nations, a document highlighting our friendship and the exchanging of diplomats, a railway linking Halsberg's coastal cities to that of Altha's to help with exporting and importing various sea side goods, and finally the topic I am very very keen on discussing the current status and treatment of my Ani, or well basically followers of Althanian Polytheism...the term is roughly translated to children of the gods or children of the Anitax." she answered, very carefully analyzing the President's body expressions and the such.
"Shall we then perhaps talk first of the Althanian minority within Halsberg? Now, as much as I love Golgosa and her people, I must confess that I'm not an expert! I'll defer to Mr Dubose's knowledge on this subject."
The tall, gaunt man who had been accompanying the entourage leant forward in his chair. He brushed a strand of his long hair from his face. Aureliana noticed his lapel-pin was in the shape of the Christian cross.
"Thank you, High President. As Minister for Spiritual Affairs in Golgosa, its my job to make sure that all the religions in my jurisdiction get along with each other. Now Golgosa is one of the most devout places in Halsberg. We're very proud of our Catholic faith, but that doesn't mean we exclude any religion. Acquaintances in the Althanian Dominion have told me that there are rumours that your Ani are not treated as well as they should be. I'm here to totally deny that claim. Golgosa's government practises a policy of inclusion. All religions are welcome to be practiced, provided they recognise the Catholic nature of the commonwealth..."
The High President interjected: "That requirement is one set by the commonwealth of Golgosa and not by the confederate government in Thurston. The commonwealth is particularly devout and as such its politics is a tad more conservative than that of the central government. But I certainly give you my personal guarantee that the Althanians of Halsberg are treated with complete equality. The days of persecution of any minority are far behind us."
Dubose gave the High President a look of steel. Despite being members of the same political party, the evangelical Dubose was often one of the High President's harshest critics.
"As the High President says, all people of all faiths are treated with respect and equality in Golgosa..." The High President gave Dubose a light kick under the table, "...and Halsberg as a whole. The commonwealth's spirituality department has designated the followers of Althanian Polytheism as a registered minority, and as such they enjoy all the protection from hate crimes as other minorities. In fact, just last week two catholic extremists, with possible links to Crusader organisations, were jailed for an attack on an Althanian man. Thanks be to the most merciful Lord our God for allowing him to survive..." Another kick under the table convinced Dubose to stop talking.
Aureliana listened intently, personally she was not annoyed by Mr. Dubose, his constant stepping onto the the idea of monotheistic religion, but rather how he didn't care who was speaking to really. She felt the tiny motions of a kick the President would give Mr. Dubose but kept a informed look not to embarrass the man, after the men finished she took a sip.
"Good, I care for my Ani very deeply, I reflect them, so I must protect their well being in the dominion and out. What is the predicted amount of these extremist groups, and how often do these attacks happen? Do you possess a suspected list? I am only asking these questions to protect the people of altha as well so please understand I mean no intrusion into your national politics I just wish to help my people."
God, why did he invite Dubose? Thankfully, the Anitax seemed to be taking his rudeness rather well. He was well aware of the tendency of Golgosans to refuse medical treatment on account of their faith, and his experiences with Dubose convinced him that the Golgosan minister was doing little to aid the development of the commonwealth.
"A completely valid question. I have in fact asked Mr. Dubose to bring that information along today. For me to read."
Dubose opened his briefcase and passed numerous pieces of paper to the High President. He seemed disappointed that he wouldn't get another chance to speak. The High President examined the data.
"Ah yes, here we are. According to the data collected by Mr. Dubose's department, there are three groups with suspected links to Catholic extremism operating in Golgosa. According to the notes made by the Chief of the Golgosan Police, they are being investigated as terrorist groups and as such any further inquiry into the investigation is discouraged. His words, not mine", the High President said suspiciously.
"The official record of attacks against the Ani has the number of reported incidents at 303 over the past year. On behalf of the people of Halsberg, I sincerely apologise for this. It is completely unacceptable in this day and age and I hope you can see we are doing all we can to rectify this situation." A somewhat loud scoff emanated from Dubose's direction. The High President sighed, scribbled a note and handed it to an aide. After a few moments, the aide announced that Dubose had an urgent phone call. Dubose mumbled his apologies to Aureliana, but said nothing to the High President. He left quickly.
_"I must also apologise for the conduct of Mr. Dubose. I honestly thought he would handle himself with some respect in the presence of a foreign leader, but apparently not. I do hope he hasn't offended you.
"Now, I can tell you that the Central Anti-Terrorism Commission in Thurston has a list of suspects for these attacks. According to the file, investigators are currently gathering evidence to help bring these despicable people to justice."_
"It is very much alright, you should not need to apologize for another's actions, he is blind he believes only he may be right, and forgets those around him have their own opinions. In my own view, as a religious leader and as a human being under our gods or God, all religions are right and true in the minds that believe in that way of life.
It is alright, I pray for the Ani which have lost lives needlessly we must work to help their loved ones and work to stopping these extremists. I humbly request that we be updated as much as we can on these investigations, these extremists might go for our homeland, we also ask for the list to be sent as soon as possible. I believe cooperation will be a useful tool in these terrible acts that even Inos the god of hell and the underworld would condemn.
Now should we move on from this topic? Such as the details over a free trade agreement the exchanging of diplomats officially," Aureliana responded with a smile on her face, though deep inside she died a little due to the amount of attacks. She prayed for the loved ones silently and hoped Inos would care for them greatly in the afterlife.
"I thank you very much for your understanding. I will personally make sure the relevant documents is delivered to your government as soon as humanly possible. I'm sure that together we can solve this terrible problem and bring those responsible to justice. Perhaps official police cooperation is an area we can talk about later."
The High President paused to take a sip of his tea. Hot and sweet, just how he liked it. Now that perhaps the most volatile issue was behind them, and perhaps the most volatile person was out of the room, he hoped things would go smoother.
"A free trade deal, you say? I would certainly be very interested in such an agreement. Anything that helps the people prosper! Before we start any negotiations on such a deal though, I'd love to know more about the Althanian Dominion's economy. What are it's main exports, it's main imports, primary industries, that sort of thing."
"The answer is fairly simple, the lands to the north are the breadbasket of the country so we export a wide variety of foods and such, while the south is more industrial and science. Our nation has developed into a jack of all trades in a sense, due to our years of isolation. We lack in ever heavy industries really, among other things such as weaponry.
Our main exports are, raw materials, cultural items, gems, and various foods. Main imports are more sophisticated factory items, but high-tech electronic items do not fall under this list. We also love outside cultural items, especially literacy."
"A free trade agreement could very well be on the cards. Halsberg's economy would certainly complement yours, rather than compete with it. While the Commonwealth Duchy of Roeburg is also often described as the breadbasket of the Confederacy, the fact is we do import a large proportion of our food. Of course, if we were to enter into any negotiations regarding the trading of foodstuffs, I would be fighting to get the best deal not only for Halsberg, but for her farmers too. With regards to your economy's needs, I do believe we can come to an arrangement. For what Halsberg lacks in food production, it more than makes up for in factory goods. We have thousands of factories across the country, making everything from lamps to lounge furniture. Our manufacturing industry employs literally millions of people, and would be forever enriched by the Althanian Dominion's custom. Indeed, Halsberg is making enquiries into the possibility of oil under the Caspian Sea. It is certainly a very exciting time!"
"Interesting, Altha has minor oil fields in the arctic sea though they have been sparsely exploited, perhaps a halsbergian company might be interested in some oil rights.This brings me to another proposal I have, the vast majority of world trade travels by sea, to increase trade and tourism how would you like to contrstruct a railway to Althanian coastal cities to Halsberg coastal cities this could potentially be game changing for the halsberg oil future.
This would truly complement the free trade agreement don't you agree?"
"That would certainly be favourable. Recent studies have shown that the Caspian may contain between 18-35 billion barrels of oil, with natural gas reserves perhaps even larger. A rail link between our two countries, perhaps moving on to a pipeline when findings are confirmed, would be of obvious benefit to our two economies. This is especially true when one looks at the geography of our region. Unfortunately, the Caspian is completely surrounded by land, and as such it is almost impossible for Halsberg to trade in a seafaring manner. A rail link to a coastal city would be a massive step forward in this regard. You'll have to forgive me, I am not well versed in the Dominion's geography. Which coastal city would you think is the best place for the rail link to go? I know that Thurston would certainly want to be a part of this, and I'm sure many other smaller towns and cities on the coast would be eager as well. No doubt Veroni and the other coastal commonwealths would be anxious to be involved."
"That answer is very simple, Aecae the Capial will be involved, though in a more minor extent then compared to the city of Piru, named after the God of the Ocean which has the biggest port in the dominion."
"Ah, excellent. Shall we proceed to work out the specifics of the free trade deal then? As the confederacy's guest, I would be honoured if you would present the Dominion's specifics first."
"Any foodstuffs will have to be able to pass dominion regulations and standards, we also will need permission to be allowed to visit each processing center for these foodstuffs to decide whether the health of the facility will be good for dominion, we will not force them to comply with dominion regulations they simply if they wish to trade with dominion merchants will need to meet dominion regulations. Which I know through research is higher than Halsberg so you get a win-win in that.
The rest is more cultural based, such as pollution caused by a product may drive away consumers for example, animals that are consider symbols of the gods will not be allowed to enter the country as foodstuffs, a list will be sent to you soon.
One final term is that 90% of a product in raw materials must be from Halsberg to be able to be under the terms of the FTA. Any problems with these terms."
"I have no problem with these terms, no problem at all. Permission to visit the processing centres will of course be granted. We obviously want to respect our neighbours' rules and regulations. The 90% figure is agreeable. The import of foodstuffs into Halsberg will be subject to our regulations as well, and I would also ask for permission for Halsbergian observers to visit Dominion food processing plants as well, in order to be sure our imports comply with our regulations. We do not have a set list of animals banned for cultural reasons, rather we recognise the endangered nature of many species and as such we have banned the sale of these animals as foodstuffs. Also prohibited are animals which carry a large risk of disease, which is all natural and no doubt expected."
"It is only appropriate to accept your proposals, I will instruct Maximus here to draft up an agreement involving the Free Trade Agreement, Terror Cooperation, the railway and pipeline. Next order of business I assume?
Now on diplomats, the Althanian Dominion would be honored to receive halsbergian diplomats in Aecae, and I would be ecstatic to send diplomats to Thruston. Maximus will draw up that Treaty of Friendship as well, I kinda want to name these set of agreements just for the fun of it. How does the May Accords sound to you?"