The London Conference
London, 9:19 a.m.
President Johnson paced around the Presidential Palace, waiting for the invited to arrive. It was very much a mission to hopefully get to a consensus about the current state of the Western Sahara. She sent out the invitations, and she at least pondered the idea that maybe this would keep going, that the so-called 'London Conference' by the United Republic's media would hopefully bring a peaceful agreement. She had seen the Internal Affairs and Defence commissioner's rhetoric, as well as some dangerous rhetoric from other nations, and decided that it was best to not invite those.
Inviting them would not get the already defence-minded Inquistans to the table.
'Madam President, the dignitaries are arriving. Which airport shall we ask that they land in?' asked Malia al-Fakir, the Marrakechian and Arabic specialist in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
'Please request that they land at London Stansted Airport. Heathrow's traffic would be impossible to deal with for all of the dignitaries. Luton is too far away, Southend is too small, City would not be appropriate...too far away from here. Gatwick...well, it's currently under expansion as well.'
President Johnson decided it would be best to finally sit down, deciding that she would be better suited to reading Jane Austen until the parties arrived.
The RAM plane carrying the King of Marrakechia has just entered the British Airspace and will due to land soon.
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As the private rechroatian plane has flied it's way trough the air, Heather Von Henderson was enjoying herself while in it, drinking coffee and looking trough the window: "London is such a beautiful city. I'm sure that it's soon going to become a touristic hotspot after it's fully integrated into the European Union.." she then chuckled, grabbing the latest issue of The Matriarchy, managing to finish reading it just as the plane stopped. And after that, she, of course, took the private vehicle sent by the president of London with no bodyguard escort, making her way to the Presidental Palace in a matter of minutes.
The Archbishop had already attended meetings in Inquista, The Sahrawi Union and Red Croatia in the last two days, and it seems that the United Republic was next. Flights were no longer tedious for Craticus, and he has spent all his time on flights catching up on lost sleep. Craticus was apparently extremely worn out as he practically passed out when he was escorted into a limousine at Stansted Airport. Thankfully the heavy traffic in London allowed the Archbishop to catch as much shut-eye as possible.
The limousine slowly pulled over by the Presidential Palace and Craticus stepped out from his vehicle.. The Palace guards must have blocked off the press, as the Archbishop wasn't overwhelmed by flashing lights like he was in Red Croatia. "At least these Palace Guards actually do something except for cower in fear behind their walls", he murmured to himself. A beautiful sea of yellow and red tulips created quite a scenic backdrop for the Archbishop. The Palace was quite marvelous. A tingeing feeling of excitement ran through the Archbishop's body as he walked towards the interior of the Palace.
The king has landed at Stansted, as he walks down the stairs of the plane he is followed by several people holding gifts and food such as dates, olives and and traditional produce.
He then gets in the car and its start to drive in the London Rush hour which it took a while to arrive At Presidential Palace.
Presidential Palace, London, 11:27
The President watched as the dignitaries pulled into the Presidential Palace, and took the time to walk through most of the entrance to meet them. She understood that, perpetually, the surface traffic in London, even with an escort, was dicey at best. A city of nearly 17 million in the metropolitan area would lend itself to traffic problems, no matter what new transportation scheme was present. Even the Underground, National Rail, and Overground services couldn't alleviate all the traffic problems.
First was the delegation from Red Croatia. The President watched as the radiant and beautiful Heather von Henderson stepped out of the vehicle, followed closely by the royal delegatio from Marrakechia. It would be about five more minutes until the Inquistan delegation showed up.
_'My esteemed dignitaries and royal visitors, welcome to the United Republic of Great Britain and Ireland. I apologize for the traffic in London, but 17 million people live in this city and its metropolitan area, and we are a hub travel and finance here in Northern Europe.
'If you would so kindly follow me, I would like to give you a quick tour of the Palace. This was built in 1845 as a replacement for the Whitehall establishment, Number 11 Downing Street. The first is this fabulous staircase. This will take us to our destination, but we won't be going up the whole thing right now.
'Next will be our dining accommodations, which will take place in the Banquet Hall.
'Now, will you please follow me up the stairs? It's not that I wouldn't like to take you through here, but I've been here for an entire two years and I still haven't found all of the rooms, or used all of them yet. My favourite for meetings is the white drawing room, which we will be going into shortly.
'We will stop here to get our bearings before we get down to the nitty gritty of the meeting. Again, I am so happy we have all agreed to meet here in London. I do believe we will make real traction towards a satisfactory solution. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Royal Family of Marrakechia. Now, shall we begin?'_
Presidential Palace, London, 11:28
High President Solomon was late. London was a lovely city, but the traffic was always a nightmare, as his driver kept telling him. Not only was he stuck behind a bus that seemed to be unable to make it past 20 mph for half an hour, some ruddy cyclists had been travelling six abreast across the entire lane. It was a wonder how a driver hadn't simply accelerated out of frustration.
"You'd think, seeing as though I'm a world leader trying to stop a war, we'd actually be able to move slightly faster than a snail."
Billy, the young aide that the High President had taken a liking to on their last, somewhat fruitless trip to Red Croatia, agreed.
"We've probably missed the tour too, High President. The schedule the Palace gave sent me said that it would start at twenty five past. Of course, his could work to our advantage. You've always said you like to make an entrance. I don't think anyone apart from President Johnson even knows we're coming. What better entrance is that?"
"That's true, I suppose. But I think we've been behind this old woman for long enough." The High President was referring to the pensioner who had thought it proper to drive her mobility scooter down the middle of the road. The High President leaned forward, spotting a narrow side street. "There!" he shouted to the driver. "Go down there!" The car accelerated to its fastest point so far in the journey, almost hitting 60 mph. After going through several red lights, the High President at last arrived, nearly 20 minutes after the meeting had started.
He walked quickly past the security that were guarding the main entrance, and gave his invitation to the butler who had suddenly appeared. The butler took what felt like an age checking the invitation, as if he didn't quite believe it was genuine. Eventually he gave it back and beckoned the High President to follow him.
They approached the entrance to the meeting room, from which muffled voices could be heard. The High President smoothed his hair and straightened his tie in a nearby mirror. The butler knocked, and then entered. He announced, in an impressively loud voice, "The Halsbergians...have arrived."
President Johnson's face lit up. She smiled as she welcomed the High President to the table. The Inquistan Archbishop looked as though he'd seen a ghost. Red Croatia's Heather von Henderson joined the Archbishop in his look of surprise and slight irritation. King Charly was certainly pleased to see the High President, and beckoned him to be seated in the chair next to the King.
The High President smiled confidently as he sat down. "Sorry I'm late. Traffic was terrible..."
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Heather Von Henderson, who seemed to have a surprisingly ever-lasting smile on her face, even though it wasn't the most appropriate expression for a meeting as serious as this, comments on the arrival of the High President: "Thank you, Mrs. President. It looks like you have everything planned out, so perhaps we should begin with the discussion right now, seeing as the High President has finally arrived. Shall we?" she then has the smile turn into a full-on smirk as she inspects the room and those that are in it.
'Well, now we really have all the guests assembled. Thank you for joining us High President. Now, we all understand that this will be a continuation of our discussion of the Sahara region, which has escalated tensions far beyond its borders now, and into the capitals of Europe itself. It is absolutely crucial that we reach a solution. It would be a shame to see war come out of this as a result, but that means everyone might have to make a concession. I'd like to take this time to allow all parties to speak their mind about the situation, without interruption, and present their views. Then we will try to compromise once everyone has brought what they are working with to the table on this subject.'
"Thank you Madame President. Our position is very simple. We reject the actions of Inquista in the Western Sahara as illegal and morally repugnant. They, with support from Red Croatia and Rimroth, have invaded a piece of land belonging to a sovereign country and have forcibly declared it independent, for reasons we can only guess at. The Inquistans appear to have had no consideration for the wishes of the people of the Western Sahara, and simply rolled in thinking it was their god-given right to release them from Marrakechian "tyranny". While details are scarce on the situation on the ground before the Inquistan occupation, I would be inclined to believe the Marrakechian account, namely that progress was being made on the provision of housing, food and healthcare. I certainly believe the account of the government which administered the region for three years over that of an occupying power. It would obviously be in Inquista's interest to claim that the people of the Sahara were treated badly by the Marrakechian government, a claim which I reiterate my scepticism for. The Inquistan occupiers have shown no respect for the territorial integrity of Marrakechia and as such have shown no respect for the laws which govern our region. I call on the Inquistan and Rimrothian forces to withdraw from the portion of the Western Sahara which they occupy, disband this puppet committee and return control of this section of the Sahara to its rightful administrators: Marrakechia. Of course, that won't be the end of the matter. If there is legitimate call from the peoples of both sections of the Sahara for independence, both Marrakechia and Inquista must work together in order to ensure a smooth transition. Inquistan actions have been irresponsible, and if indeed hostilities break out they shall be held solely to blame and as such will be held accountable."
The Archbishop was indeed horrified when he saw the High President enter. Those orange socks with those purple dress pants? Disaster. I think the High President should meet with Mikaela Kligenberg after this meeting. The High President's fashion choice must have been pretty bad after all, as Carticus was fixated in thought throughout the usual droll that came from the High President's mouth. The Archbishop patiently waited for the Halsbergian High President to finish before speaking up himself.
"Our position remains the same. The Sahrawi Union exists as a self-determining state of the Sahrawi people, the rightful custodians of the Western Sahara. The Sahrawi have described the oppression and marginalization of their ethnic group in Marrakechian regime, while extremist have indeed described it as tyrannous. The Sahrawi people fought for independence from the Marrakechian government, and kept it for 20 years. The Marrakechian government refused to recognise their independence, so much so that they hid this fact from the rest of the world. It was clear that Marrakechia was only concerned about it's own imperialism, and only brought the independence of the Western Sahara to light when the Polisario finally committed acts against the Marrakechian government. The disclosure of such information was very convenient for Marrakechia. The Marrakechian government finally had a reason to retake the land, and re-establish it's imperialism over the territory, while the rest of the World was wondering why in god's name had Marrakechian diplomats never brought up or mentioned the status of the Western Sahara, or it's people. After the Polisario effectively went insane and started turning on it's own people, Inquistan troops stepped in, and the Marrakechian King was gleefully happy to divide the land between Inquista and Marrakechia after the Polisario terrorists were rooted from the land.
The WSA has decided that it's time to end the occupation and return the land to freedom. The Sahrawi should return to ruling their land. The intentions of the WSA have always been clear, and we've made them evident. The only intentions that have been murky are those of Inimicus, Davishire and Halsberg. Commissioner Barrington has undermined our efforts and has gone as far to claim an alarming amounts of untruthful and absurd things, the most funny of which is his claim that Inquista invaded the other half of the Western Sahara in order to create a buffer. Almost as ridiculous as the High President claiming that Inquistan troops invaded due to possible terrorists. The WSA has also made it clear that it wants to avoid war at all costs. The WSA has so far done no harm to any civilians or Marrakechian Palace guards, but have instead expressed keen interest in peace. The WSA has taken part in two peace conferences and has expressed nothing but cooperation. On the other hand, nations such as Inimicus and Davishire have thrown war threats around in the most liberal of manner, and both have mobilised their armies to make good on their war threats. If hostilities do break out, it will be be by the hands of those who oppose the occupation. The High President of Halsberg can attempt to shift all accountability of possible of war into Inquistan hands, but the only way he'll be able to put it into the hands of Inquista is by standing on a mountain of the bones and corpses of the Sahrawi people he intends to slay.
The WSA will not disband until a new government is set in place, nor will Inquistan troops withdraw until all threats of war are dismissed. I intend to compromise if necessary, and I suspect that is why we all came here. "
President Johnson stepped in.
_'It's clear that we have the two sides illustrated. One views the Inquistan actions as somewhat unprovoked, and the status of the land in question as fully Marrakechian for years. The other side has stated that the Western Sahara fell completely out of control for a few decades due to the Polisario movement.
'I cannot say that either side is wrong, because while technically the Western Sahara was a part of Marrakechia, Marrakechia had no means to maintain its presence during the Polisario movement. What is happening is that regardless, right now the people who live in the Western Sahara are the losers if we do not do something and come to a compromise. The biggest issue here is recognition by sovereign states, something that is the ONLY way that states are truly valid, separate, independent entities.
'I propose as a means to solve the issue is first a referendum for the people in both portions of the Western Sahara by an impartial observer. Not Halsberg, not Iniquista, not Red Croatia, not the United Republic, and not Marrakechia. Nor can it be, unfortunately, the Internal Affairs commissioner, as he has chosen sides irresponsibly when he should be promoting European peace in a neutral fashion.
'The second step from the referendum depends on the vote. If there is a majority that want a free nation in either or both parts, let that part be independent. If it is both parts of the Western Sahara, even better. If it's just the Inquistan portion, great. We must then recognize that the people in a fair referendum chose their fate democratically, and we must recognize that state. Thus allowing for the third step.
'The third step would be to help the people to form their government. The Western Sahara Authority would be our best bet, despite reservations in the room. They are already organized. I know the United Republic would be willing to join if the people decided their own fate. The multinational coalition would transition power to the people, but we would have to have another set of elections after the proposed two month period of the Western Sahara Authority to elect a provisional government. We must all stay reasonably involved in the progress that the fledgling nation (if it gets that far) would make.
'Our last portion would have to include provisions and penalties if either side violates the terms. If any of our nations should violate the terms of the compromise, including hostile takeover of the territory, we need to set punishments in place. I propose first sanctions and travel restrictions, at first as a message then increasing in severity if the action continues. Any military involvement should be a last resort. Claims of terrorism in the region must be investigated and validated by all agreeing parties before involvement, at which time hopefully we would all work together to fight the threat.
'That is the best compromise I can think of. I would like the opinions of us gathered here.'_
The Archbishop's face was indecipherable for a few moments, as he considered the four steps outlined by President Johnson. Craticus finally began to nod and spoke up once again.
"I find the terms of this compromise to be fair. I thank you President Johnson for your readiness to compromise and your willingness to come to an agreement where many others have refused to. The only part of your plan I disagree with is your second step. We are not playing Divide & Conquer, nor do I care about who has influence over who. This is about the Sahrawi people, and the Western Sahara. They have already faced so many obstacles, and the intention of this process is to ensure that they are no longer divided. The division of the country is the reason why we're here to begin with. We're not returning to square one, as that'll be a slap in the face of progress. The referendum concerns all of the Sahrawi people, and The Sahrawi Union. As such, there is no "Inquistan portion" or "Marrakechian portion". The Sahrawi people will vote under one roof. This will happen under The Sahrawi Union. Either they accept the Union, or they refuse it. If they accept it, then The Sahrawi Union shall be the unquestionable successor to the Western Sahara. If they refuse it, then The Sahrawi Union will disband and all WSA forces will withdraw back to where they came from.
Even though you had opposed the formation of The Sahrawi Union, and have had a say in the matter, it would still be most appropriate for your nation and your staff to oversee the referendum."
The King started speaking.
_'The Sahara has been part of the Kingdom of Marrakechia since the 17th Century. There are no difference between a Marrakechian and a Sahawri as it is the same people! We call our people all sorts Marrakechian, Sahawri, Raabati, Tangerien and all sort depending what part of Marrakechia they came from.
The POLISARIO Front terrorist organisation is anti Monarchist which had always opposed Monarchist rule which in 1980 they have formed as terrorist and rebels attacking government and its people in east of the country. That time we were weak in economy and military which they ravaged the Sahara and openly killling Sahawri's who support our Monarchy.
The joint operation we had with Inquista to free up the region from POLISARIO to regain order has happend and claims that we have made a deal to split it up is quite false as we have only asked for support ousting POLISARIO Front.
Since we have ousted the POLISARIO from the Sahara we have immediately setup programs to restore life to the people and modernizing the region. Many Sahawri still fear another comeback by POLISARIO could happen which they cannot show Royal Support in case of another attack by them.
Also I like to state the 1980 POLISARIO ravaged and controlled Sahara has never declared themselves independence or anything like that so I do not know why you Inquista and Red Croatia are making up claims of that!_
President Johnson looked at the rest of the players in the room and sighed before gathering all of her thoughts. She had to choose her words carefully.
'The Marrakechian Royal Family have made their point. There seems to be a dispute between the recounting of history between the Marrakechian government and the Inquistan government regarding the Polisario ousting in 2010. I regret to say that if we cannot agree on that portion, then it's impossible to move forward in any capacity.'
((OOC: This is why we need to respect RP that has happened before. Can we please produce the 2010 agreement/RP between Marrakechia and Inquista, because this is an exercise in circularity right now
Update: We found it. Proceed as normal.))
The Archbishop stood up and pulled out 4 small, red portfolios from the inside of his briefcase. He passed them on to the Marrakechian King, the Halsbergian High President, the Preisent of the United Republic, as well as to the Councillor of Red Croatia.
"As you can see, there was no agreement to meet the end of the conflict. After the Western Sahara was occupied, Inquista formally made it's claim with this statement, on the 18th of December..."
_My Ministry of Defense has just confirmed that Mohammed Abdelaziz has indeed been captured. However, the ministry would like to point out that the Polisario still have few small pockets of resistance throughout the Western Sahara that need to be dealt with. Furthermore, until further war crime investigations are completed, the territory in which North Inquistan Troops occupy will be maintained and kept as neutral territory and will NOT be handed over to Marrakechian Government in order to protect the innocent who may be falsely prosecuted by the government.
Councillor Alexander Kligenberg,
Archbishop of North Inquista
"Not only did the Marrakechian government not dispute Inquista's grip on it's 'portion' of the Western Sahara, but the Marrakechian government never even expressed a return of this land. The Marrakechian King essentially allowed Inquista to control this land until an indefinite amount of time. The Inquistan-occupied zone of the Western Sahara had been handed over to Inquista, and it had been officially recognised as such.
However, let the proceedings continue. I am eager to compromise."
The King shook his head,
'As we do not have military or use of weapons The Sahara is still threatened by a possible retakeover of terrorist which we fear and hence that we cannot request troops to withdraw from the region for security reasons.
This is why the previous King and Government Inquistan troops allowed to stay for Peacekeeping purposes'
_'The fact is, however, that the territory is in technicality neutral, despite your efforts to keep terrorism out of the Sahara. The Polisario movement was founded in attempts to give the people better governance. To hand this neutral territory back to you does not fit the will of the people. The people's will must come first, but we must confirm that it is their expressed will.
'The suggestion from the Archbishop will certainly be taken into consideration. Are there any more concerns, as I do believe we're stuck at an impasse until we know what the people of that region have decided.'_
[i]"A referendum is obviously most welcome. I would however, be wary as to the presence of Inquistan troops while such a referendum is being held. No doubt some will claim that their presence was a source of voter intimidation, and as such the plebiscite will be bogged down in legal action and observation for months. Perhaps if the Archbishop could give us the planned time frame for the withdrawal of the Inquistan troops?
I would also like to say to the Archbishop that President Johnson's step two in her plan is very understandable. You say there is no Inquistan portion and no Marrakechian portion. I very much disagree. For the past 3 years, that has been the situation in the Sahara and I feel if Marrakechia is going to retain any form of dignity or respect from this affair, the referendum must be held has the President has outlined. This is without even going into the democratic argument. What if the majority of the people in the Marrakechian Western Sahara reject the WSA's authority and vote to rejoin Marrakechia, but are outvoted by those in the Inquistan side? They will be locked into a country they did not want, and like President Johnson says, the will of the people must come first. Who knows, perhaps they will even face political persecution. We must not let that happen. We must stick with President Johnson's original plan, as it is the most democratic option we have on the table.
I would be interested to hear the King's opinion regarding the President's plan. Without the consent of Marrakechia, I would be wary of allowing this referendum and possible independence to go ahead.
I have stated time and time again that Inquistan troops will only remain in The Sahrawi Union until the possibility of a foreign threat has been eliminated and until the time the WSA is phased out. Considering that even Halsberg sent a series of military helicopters over the Union not too recently, you could agree that foreign militaries have no problem threatening the region?
I have already agreed to having this referendum overlooked by election officials from the United Republic, and the WSA will completely refrain from all voter intimidation and if anything goes amiss, I'm sure the United Republic officials will report it. No soldiers will even be allowed in the vicinity of voting booths.
I completely agree with the referendum and but I think you're missing the point of my proposal. While I'm definitely sure that the "Marrakechian portion" of The Sahrawi Union will vote to rejoin a country where they're a tiny minority, don't have their own self-determination and will vote to divide up their land so that even some of their cousins or family members will be living in a different country than them, that option will still be 100% available. I'm saying this is an issue of Sahrawi self-determination, not Divide & Conquer, like how you're treating it. The Sahrawi people are one, not two divided lines. Just because they have been occupied that way doesn't mean they think that way ideologically nor does it change their culture or ethnicity. We're talking about the same people. We're giving them either the option to recognize this country and live under it, or to reject it completely and return things to how they were before this started.
While I'm also interested in hearing what the Marrakechian King has to say, I'm going to assume he has no plans to compromise what so ever, and will disregard the referendum.