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Jilderen Economic Zone...


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The sun had just reached its apex as flight JD3605 breached the clouds to make its final approach for runway 36L of Uilenvelde international airport. A heavy wind made the landing far less comfortable as some of the passengers might have liked. After a slight bounce, the engines of the plane roared to slow it down.

 

Seriously, state secretary Tygo mumbled to himself, why can’t I just be unconscious for the whole flight?

Countess Elynora, who had been elected for this mission partially because of her success in Suverina, smiled as she quickly fixed her hair. We can’t have you all groggy when we are about to meet officials. That’s just bad manners. Now, quickly pull yourself together. We’ll be at the gate in a few minutes, so take a peppermint and straighten your suit.

 

In contrast to the Suverian mission, there were no guards aboard this time. This was not an official state visit, it was quite strictly business. Nevertheless, the marchioness of Uilenvelde had requested them all to join her for dinner at her private palace. With this in mind, no official talks about the possible formation of an Economic Zone had been planned. Still, the ministers of trade and economic affairs had some questions prepared for their foreign colleagues.

Just as the countess finished primping herself, the plane ground to a halt at gate A2. As the doors opened, she walked out and the prime minister of Torgon – the largest nation in plot 144 – greeted her with a fair smile.

 

Countess, it’s an honour finally meeting you in person.

Prime minister, thank you for having us. she replied.

 

As the rest of the delegation debarked, they all were greeted by the prime minister and her husband. Just outside there stood several cars who would bring them to their hotel. After a quick refreshment they headed to the palace where the marchioness welcomed her guests. Before dinner was served, they enjoyed a small performance by the Torgonian State Ballet. Dinner itself was rather elaborate, something the marchioness was renowned for, and afterwards there was time for some informal talks.

 

The marchioness had arranged to be seated next to the countess during the early evening snack. After some more polite chit chat, she asked more earnestly:tell me, countess, what is your personal opinion in this whole affair?

You know very well, marchioness, Elynora replied smiling gently, such opinions are best not uttered. I am here to represent the Grand Duchy, not myself.

Still, I would like to know. This is the only chance I’ll have during your time here that I have the chance to ask. After tonight, my part in this affair is over.

The countess nodded and her smile grew slightly. Your interest in state affairs is well known, marchioness, so I shall grant you an answer. After taking a sip from a glass of brandy she leaned forward slightly. The Grand Duchy has some stern demands for this Economic Zone, details I cannot go into as you might understand, but I honestly believe that most of these are quite reasonable. Not only will this free trade zone have its well known benefits, it would also greatly increase the stability of our region.

You see signs of instability? the marchioness replied with a serious look in her eyes.

Not within the Grand Duchy or this region, but there is a stir up north I am not all that comfortable about. Also, if we as a whole want to gain a firm position on the world market, it would be in all our best interest to work together.

The marchioness nodded and smiled. I see... So, who is that designer of that fabulous dress of yours?

 

It wasn’t that difficult for the countess to notice that these questions of the marchioness were not purely out of interest. Still, her words would bring no harm to the delegation. After Elynora had finished her talking to the marchioness and brandy she stood up and mingled with the other officials.

In her opinion, this first day went alright. None of her delegation, including Tygo, made a fool out of him- or herself. All she could do was hope that tomorrow the first day of negotiations went just as smoothly.

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During the lunch break on the first day of the negotiations, the Jilderen group retreated to a private chamber to talk.

 

They sure drive a hard bargain, the minister of sighed as he chewed upon a salmon sandwich, but this food is really good.

The countess smiled. Don’t you worry. It isn’t an easy decision we are asking them to make.

Also, they are a bit wary of our motives due to Ugeria. state secretary Tygo added, while talking with his mouth full.

Manners Tygo, manners. If you ever want to make it to knighthood, you must know your manners. But you are right, Ugeria is casting a shadow over this whole ordeal. If we play our cards right, though, we might use it to our advantage.

Countess?

Leave that up to me, Elynora said with a rather confident smile. I think it is time that I’ll meet up with the marchioness again. You men go and take care of business, I’ll go and do the real work.

 

Having said this, the countess stood up and walked out of the room. If she wanted this mission to be a success, she would have to persuade the right people. Her task was quite simple: make sure the JEZ was established under the guidelines set up by the Ducal Chamber.

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...that was most, enlightening, countess... the marchioness said after a moment of silence.

Countess Elynora nodded and stood up. Once again, I am merely expressing my concerns.

If reasons for such concern ever arise again, feel free to visit me again.

 

Just exactly what was said in the confines of the marchioness’ private room would never be known publicly. Yet, the countess knew that her words would go far beyond those walls. Now that she had moved her pieces across the board, it was time to go back to the others and see how their negotiations were going. With a confident posture she walked through the palace. Her eyes looked about, taking in much of the beauty that was being shown here. Not many people were about, most servants were kept out of the palace during officials talks. It gave these halls an almost serene quality.

 

Isn’t it almost divine? a voice suddenly sounded from behind the countess.

No, she responded whilst grinning, for this is real, not fantasy. You should know better, Tygo.

I am merely teasing, your ladyship. I came to tell you that we have taken a break and are preparing for dinner.

Has there been any progress?

Little, countess, very little. They do, as we already knew, agree to the free trade zone. It is mostly the secondary demands that are proving hard to sell.

Have faith, dear friend. Will there be another meeting tonight?

Such was discussed briefly, but no. Most felt it wise to spend the evening with other things. It would be a shame if we negotiated without a clear mind.

Very true. Now, what’s for dinner?

 

The next morning the negotiations started on a whole different foot, which surprised the Jilders side of the table. It did not, however, meant that things went any faster. Tygo had glanced at the countess, who was present as well, several times. In return she did nothing but smile politely. She knew that her talk with the marchioness had worked. Now it was all about timing her next moves effectively.

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With a sigh Tygo sat down in private room after the fourth day of negotiations. If it was up to him, he would not leave this room for quite some time. Unfortunately this was not an option. They really wanted to come to an agreement before tomorrow evening and to make sure this would happen, they needed to continue this night. As he stood up again, he slowly unbuttoned his shirt. On a slow pace, he moved himself to the bathroom and turned on the water. He decided to have dinner in his room, away from the others. Just before he wanted to get in the shower, someone knocked on the door.

 

Who’s there? he asked somewhat bluntly as he wrapped a towel around his waist.

The warm and friendly voice of the countess was audible from the other side. Just me.

I’m about to take a shower, your ladyship, the state secretary spoke as he partially opened the door. Unless it is really important, please leave me be. I am in dire need for a long and hot shower.

And a shave I see... Though, I am not here to talk, I have a letter for you.

 

Just as Tygo accepted the letter, the countess winked and walked away. Quickly he glared inside the envelope, but when he saw that it was a rather long letter, he decided that he would take that shower first. After a proper shave he stood there, under the continuous flow of warm water, for several minutes. His mind wandered, yet it kept coming back to that letter on the table. It was that curiousity that cut his shower short. With just a pair of trousers on, he removed the letter from the envelope and sat down on the bed. The fact that it was handwritten by Elynora herself meant something important. After reading it several times, it still made little sense to him. It was mostly stating facts that Tygo knew very well himself, so why would she write that down for him?

 

Oh no you didn’t... all of a sudden passed his lips as he figured it out.

 

Quickly he dressed himself in yet another suit, pinned up his identification card and left his room with the letter in his pocket. Somewhat surprised how fast his feet could bring him to the room of the countess, he knocked on the door and entered without waiting for an answer.

 

Took you long enough, Elynora smiled as she sat there with a glass of sherry in her hand.

What is the meaning of this?

I have no idea what you are talking about, the countess winked as she took a sip from her glass. I merely wrote down some things about the negotiations.

You very well know what I mean, Elynora.

With a somewhat more stern voice she quickly replied: that is countess or your ladyship to you, Tygo.

With a note of sarcasm, the state secretary said: I do apologize, your ladyship. I merely want to make sure this whole ordeal happens without any mishaps or errors.

As I have told you before. You do your job, I’ll do mine. I have the permission of the Ducal Chamber to do whatever it takes to make this a success.

That much I figured out. Still, you should be careful.

 

Two hours later, all parties once again gathered for the negotiations. Thus far a few agreements had been achieved: the free trade zone would become known as the Jilderen Economic Zone (JEZ), in five years the most economic laws would be uniform throughout the region and – when in doubt – the laws of the Grand Duchy would apply to JEZ related crimes. This, in full detail, entailed an already substantial treaty. Yet, the Grand Duchy had more demands.

 

After the first hour and a half of talking, a state secretary of one of the plot 144 nations said: and just why exactly do you want to introduce the Oni as the standard currency for the whole of the JEZ?

Quite simply, my esteemed colleague, to encourage trade even further. We do not request it to be introduced for all your citizens. It would simply be useful if all our currencies would have a fixed exchange rate. Also, if all trade within the JEZ would use the Oni, companies would lose no money when transferring cash from one currency to the other.

Then we might as well work towards a full implementation of the Oni in all our nations, a minster of one of the plot 144 nations all of a sudden spoke. If we are considering implementing it for large scale businesses, should we not also do that for the common folk?

So you suggest that we introduce the Oni all of sudden?

Not at all, not at all. After, let’s say, those five years we agreed upon yesterday, we could say that it would be introduced unless serious reasons

I see no harm in that. Other nations have done similar things and it proved to be quite successful for them.

You have to be kidding me, I do not see how...

With a loud silence! his superior interrupted him. Our friend, minister Grey, has a good point. There is just one question that bugs me: if we agree to such an extensive, economic union. What else do you want?

Unified armed forces, under direction of the Ducal Chamber the countess all of a sudden spoke, after being silent for the first bit. That would mean that, across the JEZ, there would be a force that has extensive knowledge of the laws in effect. Also, your nations could use our military support.

Well, I’ll be damned... Why don’t you just demand full annexation!?

 

With those words, the debate intensified even more. Yet, the fact that minister Grey – member of the largest nation in plot 144 – openly supported the ideas of the Jilders simply confirmed all suspicions of Tygo about the countess...

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Sometimes I’d wish I knew how you conduct your trade, countess.

Apparently quite well, Tygo, Elynora responded with a smile, or do you tend to disagree?

I would not dare, your ladyship.

 

Together, the state secretary and countess toasted on what had been a most successful night of negotiations. Just exactly how she had done it, remained a mystery to Tygo, but he knew she was largely responsible for this success. After an intense night of debating, a major success was achieved: the monetary unity. The issue presented by the countess, that of handing over the armed forced to the Ducal Chamber, had shifted the focus and led to a quick deal which was formulated very much to the benefit of the Grand Duchy.

 

I can tell by your eyes that you have a question, my friend.

Tygo sighed. Many questions, though do you really want me to ask them?

Amuse me, the countess replied as she took another sip of her sherry.

What is the ultimate goal of the Ducal Chamber with plot 144?

In short? Elynora spoke gently, a good grip on the plot to ensure stability and safety for the people. Its motives are the same as when Ugeria was secured. The difference is that we cannot simply secure this region, we need to coerce them intellectual into a collaboration. If they realise the benefits of joining our noble federation, all else will quickly follow.

Coerce? Please don’t tell me that you are using illegal means.

I am appalled that you would even dare to suggest that, Tygo.

 

Tygo feared, however, that the truth was not as simple as that. He very well knew what the countess was beyond a simple, yet very good diplomat. It was for this very reason he travelled so frequently with her.

Tomorrow would be the day that the first draft the first treaty would be made. The military union was something that wouldn’t make it in this treaty, that was for sure. Yet, the fact that it crossed the table meant that the idea was placed inside the minds of the ministers. If the Ducal Chamber played the generals of plot 144 well, a union of that sort should be possible within a reasonable short timeframe. That, however, was of no concern to both Tygo and Elynora. After he wished the countess a good night, the state secretary left her room and found his way to his bed. Quickly he brushed his teeth, took a leak and washed his hands and face. His head had barely touched the bed when a deep sleep came over him.

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TO: Jilderen

From: Suverina

 

Dear allies,

 

Suverina is prepared to extend the area of the Suverin-Jilders investment and development bank to include the entire JEZ. If believed to be of your advantage you may declare these intentions in your ongoing negotiations.

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To: G.Q. Suverina

From: G.D. Jilderen

 

We thank you for your active interests in the ongoing JEZ negotiations. The expansion of the SJID-bank to cover the whole of the JEZ just might prove to be quite valuable asset.

Also, we have made sure that our trade union will also benefit from the JEZ.

 

On behalf of the Grand Duke,

the Royal Counsellor

 

As this message was send by the Royal Counsellor, the Grand Duke sighed and walked through the room.

 

Your royal highness, is everything alright?

Yes, yes... Xallander responded with a weary face, getting used to being the Grand Duke is harder than I thought. I had hoped that my years as a entrepreneur would benefit me more.

To be honest, m’lord, you are doing a rather good job.

Much of it I owe to you. You served the former Grand Duke well and you serve me well too. I just hope that the new chiefs of staff I elected will prove their worth.

Grant them some time, m’lord. Off all candidates you might not have elected the most obvious ones, but they will prove their worth.

You make it sound as if only I made that decision. You are equally responsible for their promotion.

The Royal Counsellor smiled: technically I am not, m’lord...

 

Meanwhile, back in Uilenvelde, the last day of the first week of negotiations had ended. On special request of the countess, the marchioness had organized another formal diner. It was during this diner that the two ladies once again talked about the affairs.

 

I could not help but notice, your ladyship, that you have had an active role in these negotiations.

Countess Elynora smiled politely. And you, fair marchioness, are not independent as you wanted me to believe.

Quite observant you are, the marchioness responded while nodding slightly. After a short pause, she resumed: but it is my responsibility to make sure the best interests for our citizens are served. Passing on a few remarks you made was part of that.

Indeed, your ladyship, and that is what I expected you to do: act like a good noblewoman would do.

 

Quickly, their conversation turned into an endless squabble. On the other end of the table, the ministers of the plot 144 countries talked about more serious matters. It was quite clear that some of them had problems with the upcoming treaty. As minister Grey at one point said: are you more worried about what it’ll mean for your nation or for you power you wield? This brought some shame to several ministers. They were clearly more worried about the power they were able to wield in their area of expertise. Handing over some power to the Grand Duchy was, however, an integral part of the treaty. They too would have demanded such things if they were in the position Jilderen was in.

 

Also state secretary Tygo interrupted his colleagues, I received confirmation of the Grand Duke earlier today that he will grant substantial amounts of money to the JEZ to improve our collective economic basis.

...really? Could you elaborate on that?

For instance, the construction of several freight lines through plot 144, with several connections to the Grand Duchy, could provide a boon to the economy. Also, the modernization of several sea- and airports should increase the amount of goods handled. As you might also know, our Grand Duke has a special interest in tourism; under the banner of Jilderen it will be quite easy to attract more foreigners to your lands.

Under your banner? That is not part of the treaty...

Yes it is, minister Grey suddenly added, or hasn’t your superior told you about the other negotiations planned?

Quite surprised state secretary looked at his superior. ...no?

 

After a short laugh, his superior shook his head and told him that it was something that was way beyond his interests. It did however, made clear that there were some other talks going on. This was exactly why the Grand Duke himself was anxious about his newly appointed chiefs of staff. They were to lead the other part of the negotiations. In two days, on Riosna, all chiefs of staff of both the Grand Duchy and the plot 144 lands would gather. There they would discuss, in great detail, what it would mean if all authority was granted to the Ducal Chamber of Jilderen. In most nations of plot 144, they had not as much political power as they had in the Grand Duchy, but convincing their governments was of secondary concern. The first task at hand was to formulate a proper military treaty...

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Several days had passed and no news had reached the Grand Duke. Anxiously he had called the Royal Counsellor several times a day, but he as well couldn’t give Xallander the answer he so longer for. He was glad, though, that the JEZ-treaty had been successfully established and within several months it would come into effect.

 

Honey, please. Sit down and put your mind to rest, the Grand Duchess spoke as she looked at her husband with a smile.

I know, Xallander sighed, but you know how I am when things are like this.

Indeed I do...

...and so do I. Luckely I can give you some news. the Grand Duke-consort spoke with a grin on his face as he entered the room.

Please do tell.

This telegram just came in. It’s from Riosna.

 

H.R.H. the Grand Duke,

We do humbly apologize for the hiatus in communication, but our work bore its fruits. With the allotted budget to be invested in the armed forces, all Chiefs of Staff agreed to a full military union. Now it is time for them to play their parts.

Signed,
the High Commander, the Full Admiral and the Chief Marshal

PS
Our congratulations with the good news

 

This news was exactly what the Grand Duke needed to hear.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I hate waiting, Grand Duke sighed.

That I have noticed, the royal councellor smiled, but I am sure his royal highness has plenty of work to keep him busy.

I’m quite sure you have better things to do than to mock me.

At the moment, sir, not really. I have finished all my tasks for today and diner is in a few minutes. I do enjoy teasing you, but you know very well that I am rather impressed by the amount of work that you manage to do.

Talking of dinner, time to put on a more formal attire once again. Some dukes are present this evening.

 

As the Grand Duke took place at the dinner table, in plot 144, the chiefs in staff took place at quite a different table: one of even more negotiations. They had agreed to many things, but they were still struggling to convince their national leaders to relinquish such powers to the Grand Duchy. A few of the minor nations had been convinced rather easily, their military power would grow significantly, but several of the larger nations had issues with transferring their judicial power to the armed forces.

If any of you have a good idea on how to convince even one of these stubborn parliaments, please to tell, one of the generals sighed.

Do not despair, esteemed colleague, the marshal of yet another nation spoke more hopeful. We have convinced my prince of the idea, which remains quite a feat, so that parliament of yours should be doable.

How? They care little for the large scale cooperation. Most of them think the JEZ is a plan stretched too far, let alone the military union!

A soft voice suddenly sounded from a corner in the room.Perhaps you shouldn’t call it as such..?

Who are you!?

Just a servant, her initial answer sounded somewhat shy, but quickly she sounded more sure of her words. I am here to bring coffee and tea and keep all your words secret. But I can tell you one thing: sometimes a change in words can convince a crowd.

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