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Pelasgia

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Hierosolyma, Philistaea, Pelasgia

Seen from above, Hierosolyma appeared like a mass of limestone amidst a fertile plane, itself surrounded by an arid sand sea. At its highest point stood the Church of Our Lady of the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in all of Christiendom, closely guarded by the Orthodox Church and the Pelasgian Empire as own of their shared jewels. It was over this ornate church that the Pelasgians had nearly invaded the Isphilistines, before strong-arming the E.F. into abolishing the Mandate System; and it was still this church that caused occasional scuffles between the Holy City's owners and the various minorities--Catholic, Jewish, or even Moslem--that occupied some of its quarters.

What better view then, could one give their guests during a visit to Hierosolyma? Count Theophrastos Palaiologos, Foreign Minister of the Pelasgian Empire and Senator by right of nobility, could certainly think of no worthy alternative. Perched on the slope of a hill opposite the Temple Mount, the Gubernatorial Palace of Philistaea offered an unparalleled view of the church in question, and of all of Hierosolyma with it. Previously, the Gubernatorial Palace had served as the administrative heart of the E.F. Mandate of Isphilistines. Still, the original building (which bore little resemblance to the original structure) had been built by the Pelasgians in medieval times, making its return to its original faction (that of a residence for the Imperial Prefect and the local administration) all the more natural.

Thus, it was here, inside the palace's main conference room that the two delegations had met. On the Pelasgian side, beside the yellow flag with the black eagle, sat a series of advisors, led by Count Palaiologos. On the Tarusan side, beside the red flag with the black eagle, sat a like number of delegates, led by Afanasy Matveyev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of @Tarusa.

Once the required pleasantries had been exchanged, and all those in the room had been provided with water and treats, and shown to their seats, Count Palaiologos saw fit to start the meeting proper.

"Mr. Matveyev, once again, your presence here honours us deeply. I would like to thank you for this honour by allowing you to choose the first topic of our discussion. After all, it is an ancient tradition of hospitality in Pelasgia to let one's guest choose the initial topic of discussion."
 

Tarusa

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"I can say that I am honored for this to be my first visit in my official capacity in my new position that was vacated by my predecessor Luka Volkov. The first subject I would like to discuss would be of the global economic situation. Pelasgia controls its state oil in the same way as which we do back home, with the state coffers being rewarded or crippled by the pricing of oil. The previous Tsar and his advisors coordinated a small shrinkage of the global supply in coordination with ScanLaw while building our reserves by the decreased output, I do not recall what was told to the world as reasoning, but I can inform you this was intentional to shift the cost of oil higher to not only increase our net receipts but also apply economic pressures on the democratic world there are consequences for their actions. In response, Pelasgia, The Federation, and the Anti-State all began efforts at increasing their own production to bring prices down in a limited scope. I am here to request a cutting back in the increased production by the Pelasgian state, shutting down any new production that has been brought to fruition to have as a reserve capacity. We are working on repairing and bringing production in Maghreb back online and to the capacity before the collapse of the mandate system, this alone will potentially add significantly to the amount of oil for the global market, as well as if we cannot reach an agreement of sorts we will have to follow suit and stop with the building of our reserves and begin increasing production at home while simultaneously releasing from our reserves we have been building. This will obviously be bad for business for both of our countries as it sends prices to the floor."

Afanasy Matveyev stopped for a moment, he could tell he had their attention. This was not the pragmatic diplomacy that the Tarusans carried out before, this was a new way of diplomacy under the Tsar who had begun to replace the old ministers of his father with those who were more in line with his own ideals. Leaning over to discuss a few things with one of the men to his right he then resumed,

"Obviously we do not wish to do this, otherwise I would not be here. An agreement of sorts, and discussions that could lead to the beginnings of an organization that would essentially control roughly 40% of the worlds oil supply between just three nations where we could set policies and price marks, in cooperation instead of working against each other. Pelasgia would not need Tianese money, when it could rake in the money by setting its own domestic policies with that of Scania and Tarusa."
 

Pelasgia

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Count Palaiologos leaned back and stroked his thick, reddish beard for a moment, before leaning forward again. He had only just gotten word that the Pope had landed in the Holy City without authorisation and was making a considerable fuss, while interfering in internal Pelasgian affairs by means of the local Cardinal (@Radilo). No doubt, the Tarusans were getting these reports at the same time.

"Your proposal is straightforward and I appreciate your honesty," Palaiologos replied. "Pelasgia has long sough to pursue a policy of careful neutrality and maintaining the global status quo, as we saw it to be more beneficial to our interests. Our attempt to keep global oil prices and supply stable were part of this initiative; however, it has become clear to us that the so-called democratic world is not content with a policy of 'live and let live', but it instead demands a strict adherence to what its own governments perceive to be proper ethical standards of conduct both at home and abroad. I will not hide to you that some of Tarusa's actions, such as your operation in Himyar, are not entirely amenable to us—as, I am sure, is the case with some of our own policies for you. Nevertheless, in light of all these developments, we believe that Pelasgia must now pursue her own interests, like all other countries do, over any notions of international stability. Ironically, multipolarism is the only way for global safety to be ensured, as the failures of the E.F. demonstrate to us. As such, on this topic at least, we feel that our two countries' interests are aligned."

With this substantial explanation of Propontis' change of position out of the way, the Count was prepared to offer his substantive answer. "Therefore, Pelasgia is in agreement with the creation of a lobby for oil-producing countries to use their resources to their advantage, much like other countries use their own economies for leverage. We are also willing to eliminate our additional production of oil, since we are certain that this would not hurt our currency, if indeed you act as you say you will and adjust production to raise prices appropriately. However, in return, I would like to ask for two guarantees. First, to replace steel imports from Tianlongs, we would like to import some steel from your own reserves near the border with Kazansk. Combined with our own reserves in Attaleia, this should be more than enough to cover our economy's needs. Second, I would like for our countries to open some sectors of our respective economies to each other's trade, to make up for potential losses in business with Tianlong and its allies. If these two guarantees can be granted to us, we will be committed to both your proposals."
 

Tarusa

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"Our iron ore mining in mainland Tarusa itself is limited, we ourselves primarily import from the Frankish Empire the raw ore and steel and will soon begin importation from Sankt Katherina of the raw materials itself. I do believe between the Franks and ourselves, perhaps even the Scanians we can more than meet the displaced imports of manufactured steel and raw iron ore from Tianlong. Further easing of tariffs on manufactured goods and increasing the ease of business would of course be beneficial. So we can find ourselves in agreement with the creation of an organization for controlling the vital interests of the oil for this generation and future.

As for our adventures in southern Himyar, we know we will potentially never see eye to eye on it. But nobody ever agrees with everything another person believes in. We Tarusans have always had an interest in southern Himyar since the late 19th century with the establishment of the Noks Free State. Today it is a majority Orthodox nation that provides for the Empire in areas that the Empire lacks, while also having the benefit of access to resources due to it being part of the Empire via the Tsar's personal holding. The abandonment of Al-Maghreb by the European Forum could not be tolerated longer along the border of the NFS, as such we acted. In time stability will be brought back, its economy will recover and grow stronger, and we shall work on missions to convert the population that we can to the Orthodox Church. We could find a potential receptive way perhaps in opening the doors for help with the conversion and spreading of the faith to the Pelasgians. Two Patriarchs working towards the same goal is better than one."


Afanasy Matveyev was appealing to the greed everyman had inside on the economic front and taking advantage of the rift between the Orthodox and Catholic churches that had begun to grow recently by looking to care for the conversion of those whom followed heretical beliefs in the Catholic and Islamic world.
 

Pelasgia

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"Then the economic fallout from our oil cooperation can be mitigated to a satisfactory degree," answered Count Palaiologos. "And, anyway, with our increased profits from the oil cartel, we should be able to offset any increased costs in imports from Tianlong."

The religious undertones certainly caught the Pelasgians' attention... but the Count wanted something a bit more. He would have to convince the Pelasgian public and, more importantly, the deep state to go along with the dramatic shift in policy that would be Pelasgian support for the Gothic Sea Pact's actions in Himyar. In truth, Propontis' main issue with the whole affair was that it had been someone else and not itself that had colonised that part of Himyar. With that in mind, Count Palaiologos had an idea.

"In truth, we agree that the E.F. could never have effectively resolved the issue of the former mandates—neither could have the democratic nations, who are too busy pontificating about human rights to step in and restore order in those parts of Europe. Our own experience with the Isphilistines, whose abolition led to the end of the Mandate System, is certainly in line with this assessment. Nevertheless, I find that the Pelasgian public would have a hard time agreeing to an extra-Himyari presence in the continent—unless, that is, we were to have a minority share in the economic exploitation and development initiatives of the former mandates. In that case, we could market it as an international effort by nations including Pelasgia to uplift that part of the world."

He paused for a second, to allow the opposite delegation to fully grasp the trade-off he was proposing: a minority share in development, in exchange for full support. Al-Magrab did have large steel reserves, after all...

"The missionary work you have proposed ties in perfectly with that. It is our duty as Christians to help our fellow men in these areas of the world—and what better way to help them than to give them eternal life? The Catholic Church has failed in this, so our two Patriarchates must cooperate to bring the people of the two former mandates the word of God, along with all the charitable services of the Church."
 

Tarusa

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"Cooperation with a share or involvement of the development and exploitation of Maghreb and Hajr would have to be something that would be discussed between Pelasgia and the other members of the Gothic Pact. Our controlling interests in the former Al-Magrab mandate is only the western half of the country, which we are still currently working on pacification and bringing its economy back to pre-mandate collapse levels. Church services would be a good opening point and from there more and more doors can be potentially opened with more talks between all of the parties and time. This would be a small opening of the door to greater cooperation instead of instantly kicking the doors wide open"
 

Pelasgia

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"We can work with this small initial opening. Of course, we would have to withhold any recognition on our part, until full cooperation can be established. On that note, I think it advantageous if we were to hold a meeting with all members of the Gothic Pact at some point in the future, given that the things we have discussed here, such as the oil cartel, concern all members."

Count Palaiologos took a moment to look at his notes before continuing.

"This meeting has provided a solid basis for future cooperation between our states. If you wish, we could also touch upon some others topics, such as a potential wedding to unite our royal families through a junior prince on either side, or further agreements to boost economic, cultural, and military-intelligence cooperation. Alternatively, we could discuss these at a future meeting, when the measures we have already agreed upon will have had some time to sufficiently thaw our relations."
 

Tarusa

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"I believe more meetings between ourselves and other ministers and even higher levels would be beneficial ways to continue to grow our bilateral relations over time. Showing a continued growing of relations over the foreseeable future. We have taken a great step forward with coming to an agreement on establishing a cohesive organization for the sustainability of the oil industry into future generations via supply and demand controls in our interests and the worlds. I know there has been word intermingled with the Scanians of a desire for a similar organization, so upon my return home I will most likely announce the creation of this organization and forward an invite to the Scanians as a founding member of the organization amongst our two nations. I propose we meet again in six months time, with additional ministers from our respective governments and discuss further growth of our relations."
 

Pelasgia

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Count Palaiologos agreed that that would be the best course of action. After the resolute pleasantries were exchanged, the Tarusan delegation were presented with medals of friendship, and then escorted back to the airport with as much pomp and ceremony as when they arrived, following a requisitie visit to the Patriarchate of Hierosolyma and its most important sights--with plenty of media coverage.

That concluded the first major diplomatic meeting between the Pelasgians and the Tarusans.
 
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