By Tagmatium Rules
To: Their Excellency, Eduardo Guerra, Minister of Commerce of the Christian Commonwealth of @Ebrary
From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
There has been some brief talk between our nations' foreign ministers with regards to a trade agreement between our nations, as well as the idea of regional security. I have been charged by his Aroman Majesty, Kommodos III, by the Grace of Christ the God, Holy Emperor and Autocrat of the Aromans, Equal-to-the-Apostles, to discuss the former with you. However, my government is not adverse to the latter becoming a topic as well although for this we would have to bring in representatives from my nation's Ministry for War. This would enable for a more serious discussion on the matter but it is also beyond the scope of what I am sending this message about.
It does seem that in some areas, our economies could be considered to be direct competitors. This is especially true of the agricultural sector, as both of our nations lean more heavily into that than others may do. I appreciate that that comes across as protectionist but I feel that the wurld economy has not yet moved into a stage of truly free trade with other nations. Trade agreements such as what the Holy Imperial Government is hoping to achieve with the Christian Commonwealth is a step towards this, however.
My government would be keen on Ebrary opening certain aspects of its market to imports from my nation by reducing tariffs, customs duties and import fees. My ministry has prepared the following list in light of this. This list has also been tailored to areas where it seems that your economy might be open to foreign imports, especially where it is not directly competing with domestic production or manufacturers. This is not considered to be an exhaustive list but should provide us with opportunity for further discussion.
The list is as follows:
Biofuel, especially biodiesel Agricultural chemicals Renewable energy technology, whether for domestic or industrial purposes Consumer electronics Luxury goods, such as but not limited to wine, brandy and whisky I have had analysts employed by my ministry going over your nation's economy, as well as conducting interviews within Tagmatium in order to find out what areas of my nation's economy might be receptive to Ebrarian imports. Therefore, the following list has been compiled and it is of areas that my government would be willing to look at reducing tariffs, customs duties and import fees.
Motor vehicles Natural gas vehicle technology Beef and beef products Soyabeans and related products Luxury goods, such as but not limited to wine, brandy and whisky I hope that these will give us a starting point for discussion. It is realised that our nations may turn out to be against one or more of these, or they may be dropped during further negotiations but that certainly should not stop us from trying.
Of course, any food products or others, such as motor vehicles, that are imported to my nation will need to meet the safety standards of the Greater Holy Empire and it is imagined that the reverse is true as well. The health and safety of the Aroman population is a key concern of my government and it is imagined that the same is true of the Ebrarian government. If products do not meet the standards laid down by laws concerning them, then we will need to take a joint look at whether our nations can raise the bar or come to some sort of agreement over them. Equally, Tagmatium has some of the highest environmental protections on Eurth and this has been pledged through international treaties as well as our responsibility to protect God's Eurth.
This is the reason that my nation is proposing a reduction on tariffs on renewable technology. The Greater Holy Empire has consistently met targets set by the Holy Imperial Government for providing all of its energy needs through renewable sources. A key part of this has certainly been nuclear technology, of which the Aroman power plants have had a consistent safety record for almost fifty years. If these talks go well, perhaps sharing this can come up for discussion, if the Ebrarian government so wishes. Of course, as your nation is mainly fueled by natural gas, I recognise that introducing a competitor to that industry may not be something that your government considers.
Our foreign ministries also discussed the possibility of looking at the visas for our nations and this is something that can also be addressed during these talks. Student visas would enable the youth of our nations to experience higher education is each others' nations. Tagmatine universities are consistently ranked amongst the highest on Eurth and I am sure that those of Ebrary are equally as good. Other visas, such as tourist and working ones, can also be up for discussion. I believe that this will help bring our nations together and strengthen them, a necessary thing at a time when it seems that the wurld is becoming more hostile.
Indeed, the Cetan Sea is becoming more hostile than it has been before. If the Ebrarian government wishes, then a topic of our negotiations could also be armaments. Although my nation does have a significant armaments industry, this is primarily turned towards the armed forces of Arome. We would be willing to cooperate with Ebrary and help it to be capable of facing a hostile wurld.
Our shared faith in Christ give us better understanding between us than most nation, and I pray that these negotiations are satisfactory to all.
Megas Logothetes, Grand Minister
Logothesion tou Kommerkiarionikou, Ministry of Trade,
Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion, the Greater Holy Empire of the Aromans
By Tagmatium Rules
To: Their Excellency, Oiguina Escoffier, Trade Minister of the Autokrateia ton Megas Zaxareia, the Empire of Greater @Zaxar
From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
It has been noted by the Holy Imperial Government that your nation is on the verge of becoming one of the largest suppliers of lithium to the rest of the wurld. This is primarily due to the fact that your nation has some of the largest and most readily exploitable reserves and sources of it on Eurth. It has also been noted by my government that your nation has already struck a trade deal with at least one of your fellow Aurelian nations and it also seems that word has got out that Tagmatium is equally interested in pursuing such a deal with your nation. This, I can very much confirm, is the case.
Whilst your nation is not the only nation with available sources of lithium on Eurth, the Empire of Great Zaxar is the only one that the Greater Holy Empire is interested with doing business with at this time. Your nation has shown itself to be a nation whose star is rising at the moment, and it would be in the interests of my nation to help this star to continue to rise. Although we would envision this to be a reciprocal relationship between our nations, as such a relationship would be of benefit to both Zaxar and Tagmatium. To this end, I am requesting that your government facilitate talks starting between your nations' lithium mining companies and companies within my nation that are keen to utilise this source, to enable the export of lithium to Tagmatium.
Whilst this trade would be a good next step in the short history of relations between our nations, there is undoubtedly more that we can do for each other. In order to make this more of a wide-ranging trade deal, one that benefits both of our nations beyond just trading in lithium, I would also request that our nations use this opportunity to investigate what tariffs might be reduced against the other products that can be sourced from our nations, what investment opportunities might be available and what further aspects of trade that we could encourage between our nations.
For example, my nation is known for its expertise in farming, and a standing deal exists between Tagmatium and the Dominions of @Metztlitlaca whereby experts from my nation help to improve the farming techniques employed by the farms of Metztlitlcaca. Equally, my nation is a main exporter of farming machinery, fertiliser and other related products. I know that Aurelia has one of the most extensive rail networks in the New Wurld, and there are several locomotive works that would be keen to do business with state- or privately-owned rail companies in your nation.
The people of Tagmatium, the Holy Emperor and I await your reply.
Through faith in God and through trade, we can bring the wurld's nations closer together.
Megas Logothetes, Grand Minister
Logothesion tou Kommerkiarionikou, Ministry of Trade,
Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
By Tagmatium Rules
Spring was finally coming to Gournaion, the capital of the island of Efmoseia and the nation of the Hexanisa. It had been a hard winter across all of northern Europa and even the western countries of Machina @Haruspex and Tagmatium had suffered in the coldest weather in decades. Despite being the two most functional nations in either the Occident or Burania, many of their citizens had died in the cold weather and parts of them had been cut off due to the deep snow and blizzards. In the band of six large islands and innumerable smaller ones that marked the division of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon (Sea of Storms) and the waters of inner Europa, the weather had been especially hard because the islands had very little resources of their own to call upon. Some of the small fishing villages and semi-permanent logging camps that made up the settlements on the exposed northern coasts of the islands had to be completely abandoned. Vessels and aircraft from the Stolos, the militarised coast guard, were now going out to assess the damage to the settlements and to see if the inhabitants could return. The weather had been a shock after the warm temperatures of the summer and very few people had been prepared for anything other than the usual winter weather, although that was always quite harsh. The economic damage would have to be counted before the country could move forward. The long cold winter had delayed the planting of crops and prevented fishing for weeks when the fleets should have been out laying pots for crab or trawling for Adlantic salmon. Whilst the people of the Six Islands were unlikely to starve over the coming months, the finances of the country and its inhabitants would suffer. The last decade hadn't been kind to the Hexanisa and it seemed like the start of the new one wasn't going to be great, either.
Those were the thoughts going through the head of a warmly wrapped little old lady as she sat at a cafe table and took sips of a cup of tea whilst looking out over the harbour of Gournaion. The cafe had cast iron furniture arrayed around tables and segregated from the street by low planters with hardy plants, although most of them had died over the winter. A heavyset stheneloser dog lay curled at her feet, its thick black and white fur proof against the cold of the northern islands. There were still boats in the harbour, although most of them were out to sea, trying to catch up with the season's fishing. She had just come from a morning service at the Panagia Theotokos, the cathedral of the Hexanisa. A savoury pastry lay untouched on a plate in front of her. Several newspapers were spread across the table, some from the Hexanisa, some from Tagmatium and even one from @Orioni. It was the old lady's habit to look through the headlines in the morning after church before she pottered back to her house. The headlines, at least of the Tagmatine ones, were mainly about the Megas Agios Basileia's involvement in Ceris – two carrier groups and a corps were now in action there, with suggestions that more might follow on. She shook her head. It was unlikely that “Arhomaneia” was involving itself there for the benefit of the Cerisers, although no one could deny that the Sentists were a plague that wouldn't go away of its own accord. The Orinese paper was at least more hopeful, although it focussed on the ongoing EOS mission in the Bainbridge Islands.
The papers were full of just more examples of the powers of the wurld bullying the smaller nations. Although the Orinese were much less... conservative, blunt and chauvinistic than the Tagmatines, they were perhaps a bit more hypocritical. They tended to frame all of their actions as good for the people they were subjecting them to, even if it was entirely against their will. The intervention in the Bainbridge Islands had been going on much longer than any operation the Tagmatine armed forces had undertaken in decades. Under the aegis of EOS, the Orinese were bringing peace and stability to the south of Europa, whether it was wanted or not. After a moment looking out to sea again, she broke off a corner of the pastry and crumbled it up further. She then tossed the crumbs to a wagtail that was scavenging around the tables of the cafe but keeping a wary distance from the stheneloser. Another joined it and the two birds bickered for a moment amongst the table legs before seemingly deciding that the amount of crumbs was enough for the pair of them. She watched the small birds briefly before sighing to herself and pouring more tea from the pot into her cup.
A passerby called a greeting and waved at the old lady. The wagtails, always timid, scattered and chittered their outrage at being forced away from their crumbs. The stheneloser raised its heavy head and watched the passerby and the old lady's reaction to them, its eyes darting between the two. When she waved back, it put its muzzle back on its paws, content that there was no threat there and closed its eyes. She reached down and scratched it behind its ears and broke off another bit of the pastry. The dog put its head up again and gave a begging look. The old lady smiled at the big dog and gave it the rest of the pastry, saving a corner for herself. It chewed messily for a moment and nosed up the crumbs that it had dropped. She ate the corner she had broken off and sipped the cup of tea.
Of course, to the locals it wasn't just an old woman – it was Evangela Leotykhidissa, the Megas Kritissa, the Great Judge, of the Kritakrateia of the Hexanisa. A small bodyguard called the Skouterioi lurked nearby, attempting to make themselves unobtrusive but also trying to be a visible barrier between her and any possible threat. Unlike the bodyguards of the islands' western neighbour, they weren't in ostentatious armour and robes but coats and suits. It was clear that they were still bodyguards, as the tailoring of their suits couldn't quite hide the presence of holstered pistols. The Skouterioi had always made it clear that they weren't happy with the fact their head of government was content to sit in public and let the islanders greet her as they walked by. Although the islands weren't rich, they were strategic. The Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton was an ever-present threat, as were the secret services of the Exousiokrateia or the Volskoi. Any of them might try to engineer a takeover of the islands or assassinate the Megas Kritissa. They would likely then try to take advantage of either the islands' position or the possibility of mineral or oil wealth possessed by them. The Gharoiki have been carrying out “hydrocarbon mining” in the areas of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon under their control. It seemed to be a pompous way of saying “oil and gas extraction” and it couldn't be doubted that the Hexanisa were being eyed up by the northern barbarians.
Evangela took another sip of tea. The Megas Kritissa had been voted into the position in 2016 as a reaction against the regime of Kommodos Iakoumos, as she had been in the election six years before that. The old woman was one of the few of the Lipotakai, the Deserters, still actively involved in the politics of the Hexanisa. She had been repeatedly elected because she was seen as taking a hard line with Tagmatika. There was still an arrest warrant out for her in the Megas Agios Basileia, even though it had been over sixty years since the events at the end of the Long War which had caused the Hexanisa to break away from Arhomaneia. It looked like the relationship between the islands and the mainland were warming up in the reign of Theodosios VI but his death at the hands of an assassin and the civil war that followed had halted that.
At the time, some of the other Kritai had considered throwing in their support behind the cabal of naval and army officers attempting to revive the Navarkhokrateia but that scheme had been stopped by the then Megas Krites, Ioannes Hegesinos. It just would have meant a vengeful Kommodos landing forces on the islands and bringing them to heel by force. Some of the defeated rebels had tried to flee to the islands in the aftermath of the civil war but they had been turned away, most of those disappearing further east or south. There were rumours that the new regime in Tagmatika had shot dozens, if not hundreds, of rebellious officers. Handing over any refugees would have been as bad as murder even if it would have meant that Tagmatika might have warmed up to the Hexanisa.
The pot of tea was empty and Leotykhidissa stood to her feet, using the arms of her chair to help her get there. One of the Skouterioi stepped forward to take her arm but the old woman waved him off. The big dog stood up and followed the old lady at her heels as she started on the walk towards her official residence. It wasn't too far away from the harbour and the cafe. Gournaion was not a bustling metropolis by the standards of most nations, even New Wurld ones, but it was the largest city of the Hexanisa. The other people walking the streets knew the Megas Kritissa by sight and waved at her as she passed. Many other heads of state would use a car to get around but the size of the capital meant it was unnecessary and Leotykhidissa also loved to see the city. It meant that the old lady felt like she was more in touch with the ordinary people of her country than others in her position might be. And she could see the effects of the policies that she enacted or the repercussions of wurld events.
In recent years, the numbers of boarded up shops were more noticeable than ever before. As she walked through the cobbled streets of the port, it was obvious where the road surface had become worn or damaged and been replaced with cheaper tarmac. The Great Europan Collapse had not impacted the islands as badly as others – the government hadn't fallen apart due to economic ruin like in many other countries but the primary industries of fishing and logging had taken a hit. The tourist trade had been nascent but starting to bear fruit, with southerners coming to see the relatively unspoilt landscapes, although others came to see the remains of the battlefields of the Long War. Those were mainly Tagmatioi and their money was as good as anyone else's, even if the Hexanisoi didn't like their government. However, that had dried up and the tourist board of the Kritakrateia just didn't have the money or the pull to try to attract more people to the islands. Foreign faces were now entirely uncommon on the islands.
The Megas Kritissa got to the official residence of the head of the islands. It was no towering edifice but a low villa, almost in the classical style, if not for the modifications made to the architecture to take into account the frigid winters. A pair of guards in the dress uniform of the Taxiotai, the island's paramilitary police, stood either side of the door. Their faces were slightly reddened from the cold and their breath clouded in the early morning air. Leotykhidissa would make sure that the guards changed over a bit earlier than scheduled to get them out of the cold. The big dog walked up to the nearest and sniffed at the gendarme's boots.
The dog stopped sniffing about immediately and trotted after the old woman and into the building. It was a comfortable enough building, if slightly more grand than many others in the city. It was the old seat of the Exarkhos, the governor, of the Hexanisa, back before the Long War had dashed that all to the winds. It was, imaginatively, known as the Palati tou Exarkhou, the Palace of the Exarkhos, although “palace” was far too grand a name. Arkadios' nails clicked on the tiles in the hall. The vestibule was cold and a draught blew through it, even with the front doors now closed by the Taxiotai on guard. The only real nod to being in the building was when an aide stepped forward to take the Megas Kritissa's coat and held out a warm indoor robe. Waving the aide away with a gesture, Leotykhidissa took off her coat and changed into the offered robe.
“A cup of tea to warm you up?” the man asked. He was almost as old as Leotykhidissa and had the air of a trusted retainer about him.
“Yes, thank you,” replied the Megas Kritissa, giving him a thin smile that still managed to be warm. “Can you take it through to the study? There are some papers I wish to go through before I get anything else done today.”
“Of course,” he sketched a quick bow and stopped to give Arkadios a pat on the head before he did so. “Anything for this boy?”
“No, he's had a pastry already this morning,” Evangela said, looking down at the big dog, who was in turn looking up hopefully at the aide with big eyes. He was trying to suggest that he'd not been fed at all today, despite what was being said. “He sat patiently outside, waiting for the service to finish. He's been a good boy.”
Arkadios' tail wagged at the words.
“I will bring the tea through when it is ready, Megas Kritissa,” said the aide, finally stopping rubbing the fur on top of the stheneloser's head and walking down the hall. “The heating's on, so the study should be nice and warm.”
“Thank you, Leontios,” the old lady said and walked further into the residence.
One of the main changes from the traditionally designed Arhomaiki home was that the study wasn't in a commanding place in the building, open to both ends to allow a good view throughout. Instead, in a nod to the cold weather, the room abutted the kitchen, to allow it to take warmth in from the ovens in the walls. That, along with the underfloor heating, made it one of the most snug rooms in the depths of winter. For an elderly person, it made it very liveable. Arkadios padded into the room and went straight over to the dog bed that lay in between the desk and the door and curled up in it. His eyes were on the Megas Kritissa as she pulled out the chair behind the desk and took out a pad of paper. She looked ahead almost blankly for a moment before taking a fountain pen from the mug of pens on the desk and started writing. It took a long time for the words to start properly coming and the cup of tea that Leontios placed on the desk was stone cold before she took notice of it. Eventually, the big dog had started to fidget and whine slightly, making it known that he needed to go out to go to the loo before Leotykhidissa finally stopped her fitful writing and looked down at the words on the page.
She sighed and made the sign of the cross in the Aroman fashion – thumb, index and middle finger together, going from right to left – before sitting back in the chair. Of course, as she herself was not a despot, Leotykhidissa would put it before the other five Kritai to see what they would think. Personally, it seemed to be the only way to guarantee the fate of the Hexanisa but she had no idea whether it was the right choice. She was just tired of seeing her beloved nation rot and its people suffer like they had been doing for the last few decades.
Her status as a Lipotakissa and her stance on Arhomaneia meant that she would probably be the only person who could propose a reunion with the Megas Agios Basileia without it being immediately shouted down and the proposer being arrested for high treason. It was certainly shocking, even to Leotykhidissa, but perhaps it was time for her country to come in from the cold.
OOC: It's time to get the ball rolling on the first part mentioned here.