Summit of Three Lions
Cochem, Port of River Tisza, Archduchy of Dalmatia
With Estergon now a official member of the European Union, it's leaders have been eager to meet their new allies, which is what led the Archduke of Dalmatia to arrange a meeting with the neighbor states of Halsberg and Poland-Lithuania. It was arranged that the meeting will be held in the small town of Cochem, near Dalmatia's capital - Debrecen, a town that was built on River Tisza and is one of the few cities in Dalmatia that doesn't have direct access to the Caspian Sea, but did play host to a charming castle that Archduke Edgar and Archduchess Margaret loved to visit. The delegation of Halsberg and Poland-Lithuania would first be brought to Debrecen - Dalmatia's before mentioned capital -- seeing as Cochem didn't have a airport of it's own, and would then be driven to Cochem's castle by a classical black car from the 90's from which they'd be able to see several natural sights of Dalmatia that would help them realize why is Estergon so enthusiastic about investing in tourism.
Upon arriving there, the delegations would notice that the castle's exterior was kept the way it was originally built, with stone walls and beautiful gardens, but the interior was renovated to fit the noble family's modern needs. And at the moment, the Archduchess and the Archduke were on their terrace, drinking coffee on their glass table whilst waiting for the poles and halsbergians.
"How much do we know about the delegation, Edgar?" Margaret says.
"Not much, but what we do know for certain is that Halsberg and Poland-Lithuania are both influental countries, and we should be honored that they have agreed to meet us. Halsberg is our first neighbor, after all, and if things go right they're going to be our best trade partner. Remember that the region we rule controls Estergon's sea, so we have to begin exporting as soon as possible."
"I'm aware of that, but don't be too desperate to make a single deal. I share a bedroom with you, and I know how you are around things that you want... but are hard to get." Margaret then chuckles.
"Let's not mention that to our guests, my dear..." Edgar responds.
There was a slight bump and a screech as the plane carrying the Halsbergian and Polish delegation touched down at Debrechen's airport. It was a reasonably short flight, at least for the Halsbergians but nonetheless pleasant. The weather had been surprisingly good for the time of year, and the passengers were able to get a good view of the EU's newest member state from the air. They could tell why it was considered such a good holiday destination, and indeed why Estergon promoted itself as such.
The Halsbergian delegation consisted of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Wayne Martinelli, and the High President himself, along with an assortment of aides and advisers. They sat together on one side of plane, while the polish delegation sat on the other, much to the High President's dismay. He'd been looking forward to having a chat with President Karolina before they arrived, but she seemed engrossed in her work. Admirable, he supposed. Solomon had been reading up on the history of Halsberg's neighbour to pass the time. There were a few parts he recognised from his school days, but most of it was new to him.
The plane carrying the party taxied slowly to the terminal, giving the side with the polish delegation the best view of the town of Debrecen. The door opened and the delegations disembarked, with Solomon and Karolina leading the way down the steps to the waiting car.
"President Kligenberg, its been far too long," Solomon said to Karolina as they were making their way down from the plane. "I was starting to think you'd forgotten about us Halsbergians" he said with a smile.
Both delegations got into the black cars that were waiting, and they pulled away from the plane. Solomon and Karolina were in the car that led the small convoy, and they began their journey to Cochem.
President Kligenberg looked at the High President and responded, "Yes, it's been far too long. Fortunately there will be some festivities in Inimicus. I take you are going there immediately after this summit?"
The President watched the window of the car and looked out on the landscape. The Dalmatian coast looked like nothing she had seen in Poland, yet everything at the same time. The exotic landscape dotted with charmig buildings made Karolina feel as if Poland were transformed. She immediately loved this country and the landscape.
President Kligenberg enjoyed the company of the Halsberg delegation. She couldn't remember the last time she was so relieved to see a foreign head of state. The High President was a kind man, and was very witty. She still wanted to know exactly how he got a couple of those minor cuts and injuries in Wilanow Palace....
The stopped, and the two looked out at Debrecen. They were greeted by another person who seemed to speaking English, but for some reason she had a hard time understanding the person.
As the two have arrived to the castle they were escorted to the terrace upon which the noble couple was awaiting them, with the Archduchess being eager to meet them while her less social husband remained seated in his chair. "It is a pleasure to meet both of you after reading all the wonderful things over the social media." she says. "On the other hand, I doubt that you have heard about me. The name is Margaret Habsburg, and I'm here to play hostess alongside my husband." The woman seemed quite dignified and well spoken, enjoying the social interaction greatly, and there seemed to be something quite organized and friendly about her, though she didn't like to waste time - which is why she immediately made sure that everyone took their place at the table and then continued drinking her coffee. "I hope that your travel here didn't take too long." she added before she took her husband's hand.
"Habsburg. You are a very famous European royal family, and seeing as my family was previously royal, I can say that I do indeed know who you are," President Kligenberg said. "I am Karolina Kligenberg, First President of the Polish Republic. It is lovely to meet you. Poland-Lithuania is excited to meet with such a new nation in the European Union, and a fellow Eastern European.
"Our travel didn't seem very long, as I was lost in the gorgeous landscape of your nation. It truly is a gem in our Union. So this is the castle we will be holding the summit in?"
"Yes, we are proud to carry the name Habsburg." Edgar says, "Alas we are merely a cadet branch of the royal family." Margaret then smiles, measuring Karolina up prior to taking control of the conversation once more. "Estergon is and will continue to be a gem in it's own right, but all nations have their treasures, something that a state like your's must be familiar with." Margaret was obviosly referring to the many countries Poland-Lithuania has under it's control, and she appeared to appreciate Poland-Lithuania for having such power under at it's command.
"And of course, this is the Imperial Castle of Cochem, one of the few examples of the infamous gothic revival style in Estergon. Me and my husband love to come here because it is so calm and peaceful when compared to Debrecen, and besides, there is nothing more pleasant than spending long winter nights here. It's why our family often spends Christmas here, as spending it in Burdighan is no longer one of our traditions."
"Archduke, Archduchess, allow me to introduce myself," Solomon said, always enjoying injecting a dramatic flair into any conversation. "The High President of the Twelve Commonwealths of Halsberg, Michael Solomon, at your service. Myself and Karolina here have built a substantial friendship over these last few months, and have transformed the east of the region into the powerhouse of Europe. We're both really quite excited to get Estergon involved, and hope we can do great things together. Plus, its always good to have more of us easterners in the Union."
"Its been fascinating learning about the history of Estergon, and the Habsburgs themselves. There's been a fair few historian's who've argued that the history of the Habsburgs and Halsberg is closer than has been previously believed. Perhaps with our closer relations we can look into our common history more closely," the High President said, looking around at the Castle.
Despite being located so close to the twelve commonwealths, there was immense differences between the two nations. Differences that made Estergon, as the two ladies said, a unique gem in the region. "The Imperial Castle is looking fantastic," Solomon went on, "the gothic style is always a winner with me; its refreshing to take a break from the neo-classical domination of Thurston."
"So what should we discuss first?"
Margaret nodded, "I can assure you that Estergon will do it's best to contribute to the eastern economy. I'm aware that in the European Union we're all equal, but some of us have more reason to collaborate, and encouraging positive development in Eastern Europe is something that our nation is most interested in. Further encouraging trade, positive political relations and social connection, that is."
A smirk appeared on Edgar's face as Solomon started discussing history and architecture, with him being interested in both to a great extent. "House Habsburg is a interesting one indeed, and some of us like to claim that we're the most powerful dynasty in Europe, even though very little of us have actually done actual research of the subject. And regarding Estergon's connection to Halsberg, it is doubtlessly possible, as we do share a border. But we will leave that to historians, even though I'm certain that two men of our social status could give them some... encouragement."
"And yes, but I find the Halsbergian classical style fascinating too." he nodded, "Remember High President Solomon, all beautiful and extraordinary things can become average to eyes that are too familiar with them. It's up to you to remind yourself of their greatness."
"While I enjoy the festivities, I do believe we would like to begin our formal summit with some business. Why don't we head inside and discuss our cooperation?"
It wasn't that the President didn't like or appreciate architecture. She just knew that they all had to get to a Inimican celebration as well, and she didn't know if the rest of her family and Alenka were on their way to the celebration yet.
It was her fault that she was overbooked, and it was reminding her of a stretch of her concert tour where she performed three concerts in one day.
The Archduke cleared his throat, nodding his head. "Do excuse me. Not being capable of leading on a conversation is one of my flaws." He then finished up his coffee before proceeding to speak. "Now, with Estergon joining the European Union, we want to make use of the Union's benefits that we now have access to. Trade, communication and collaboration should be now easier than ever, so I was hoping that we could start working alongside both Halsberg and Poland-Lithuania."
Margaret then drops in, seeing that her husband is doing nothing than beating around the bush. "Due to the Pannonian Basin, Estergon is put in a position where it can freely export fresh produce and supplement other countries with food. And, seeing as tourism is seemingly flourishing here, we should work on connecting our travel agencies."
"That seems like a wonderful idea. Poland has a booming ecotourism industry, and produces some produce. Wheat from Ruthenia is in abundance always, but fresh fruits and vegetables come and go with the seasons, and it has been government policy to grow only native fruits and vegetables in our nation. That sort of import-export relationship would be highly beneficial, as would a free travel agreement. Halsberg and I currently engage in free trade and free travel worth around 323 billion euros annually. I'm sure the High President would see the benefit to all three of us if we extended both ideas to our neighbours in the east," President Kligenberg started.
"Poland is also a nation deeply rooted in intellectualism and arts, and education is a chief priority of our administration. We would like to invite Estergon to engage in higher education student exchanges, which have been successful to us in a number of nations. We would also like to offer to both Halsberg and Estergon a concept we're calling "artist citizenship". This artist citizenship would be offered to prominent artists, musicians, actors, film directors, dancers, etc. It would allow these people to own property and live in Poland-Lithuania; we would also offer copyright protection for their works created in Poland-Lithuania. We would, of course, not tax their earnings on their work. That would be up to home nations to collect those. We would also hope that this way, these artists can move freely between our nations and between homes, ready to create. What do both of you think of that idea. I know I'm springing that quite suddenly on the High President, as I've never really spoken to him about it either."
Edgar chuckled, shaking his head before proceeding to speak. "We're not interested in importing anything, and the concept of encouraging our artists and valuable citizens to travel elsewhere is ridiculous. It's most beneficial for us if they -.." but soon enough, he is interrupted by his wife.
"The Queen shows great interest in introducing our culture to the rest of the world while at the same time becoming familiar with what foreign nations have to offer. I'm sure that she and her husband, the king, would be willing to debate this "artist citizenship". Estergon however might not be interested in importing food from other states, as we have plenty, but we'd most definitively be interested in types of fruit and vegetables that we don't have in our ecosystem. I'm sure that the same goes for Poland-Lithuania. And the free trade and travel agreement is something that I think all of our nations are ready for."
The High President was a little confused by the Archduke's response, although smiled slightly when he was cut off by his wife. It reminded him of his second wife, Lise. She used to do exactly the same, even when they were just getting the shopping at the checkout. He was certainly intrigued by the Lady President's idea of the artistic visas, even if it had come as a slight surprise.
"The Madame President is right when she said she's springing the idea of the artistic visas on me,", Solomon said glancing at Karolina. They exchanged a smile before he turned back to his hosts, "not that its a bad idea at all. Obviously we've had our free travel agreement for a wee while now but I definitely think that's something to look into, especially if we're adding Estergon into the mix. I can assure Archduke, Poland is really quite a cultural nation, it really puts the rest of us to shame," he laughed. "Honestly, you go there and the street performers are literally orchestras. Anyway, any kind of cultural cooperation between yourselves and the Poles could never be a bad thing."
"As the President said, our economic cooperation, based around the free trade and travel agreement, has already notched up ?323 billion per year, which I think must be some kind of record. I don't have the numbers handy, but that must be close to even the European Economic Community, if its not already exceeded that. At the very least, its one of the most successful bilateral trade deals in the EU. I'm sure it'd be a great step for Estergon, and indeed ourselves, to take by expanding it to include your country."
"Halsberg at least is always interested in new products to import and export, whether it be machine parts, chemicals, fake dog poop," he joked, "and we'd be more than happy to discuss the kinds of trade we can do, especially if the King and Queen do decide go ahead with the free trade agreement. Halsberg's currently moving into full time oil extraction in the Caspian Sea, so we'd be pleased to offer Estergon some kind of deal surrounding this. There's been some talk between myself and the madame president about creating an oil pipleine to help exploit the resource to its full potential. As Halsberg is becoming the Caspian's biggest oil extractor, it'd be a great thing to have a pipeline linking us up with both Poland and Estergon, and perhaps beyond in the near future. It seems to be the season for springing things on each other, madame president! What would you all make of that proposal?"