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Report: Emperor discussed withdrawal from Gothic Sea Pact

According to a report from an undisclosed Palace source, the Emperor discussed a Frankish exit from the Gothic Sea Pact. The report indicates that the Emperor is "extremely dissatisfied" with the ongoing developments in Tarusa, including the crackdowns on freedoms and the accelerated chemical weapons program. The Emperor reportedly considered the formation of a new and unaligned defensive alliance as well as the cessation of Franco-Tarusan technological cooperation. The report claims that the Emperor consulted numerous members of the Imperial Assembly and his senior advisory team. The Imperial Palace issued a statement which denied the reports, saying that "The Emperor has not engaged in any moves to dissolve the alliance and has not sought to change Tarusan policy- whatever his personal opinions on the situation may be".


Frankish Universities see drop in international enrollment

The top Frankish universities have seen a large drop in international enrollment over the last two years according to the Imperial Education Ministry. The Empire's top 3 ranked universities- Ignatius University, Central Bourgogne University, and Chagny University; all saw drops of up to 11% in international enrollment in both 2021 and 2022 academic years. The Education Ministry blames both high cost and the international perception of the Empire's recent endeavors such as the formation of the Patois Republic and the establishment of the Alexandrette Commonwealth. The Ministry did note, however, that the international enrollment of students from @Ostmark jumped 13% in 2022.
 

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Discontent growing among Imperial Assembly

Friday, the Imperial Assembly spent several hours discussing the current state of the Gothic Sea Pact and Frankish relations with Tarusa. What began as a strong but uneasy partnership; has devolved into a tense partnership with many questioning the future of the alliance. The disagreement over Jydsken-Østveg has fueled questions among Frankish leadership over membership in the Pact. Emperor Paul discussed the need to recognize Jydsken-Østveg as a successor state and member of the Pact. Emperor Paul also pushed for opening the Pact to others. The multi-philosophy makeup of the Gothic Sea Pact made it a unique creature of politics. However, recent events appear to be pushing nations apart instead of bringing them together. Many in the Imperial Assembly called for a petition to be sent to the Emperor in regard to the current Tsar's crackdown on rights and his international decisions. The Emperor has reportedly privately discussed the withdrawal from the Pact. Many in the Imperial Assembly worry that the Tsar's actions are a sign of future moves by Tarusa that directly conflict with the pragmatic aims of the Frankish Government. Around 30 Assembly Members spoke in support of a review of the relations between the two countries. Some spoke in support of the alliance. Edmund Ripeau, a Member from Claumont, warned that if the Empire failed to repair and rebuild relations, it would "be swept away by empty modernity and empty promises". On Monday, the Emperor stated he would be speaking with the Tsar in the near future.
 

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"The Empire will remain committed to partnerships in the Gothic region" says Emperor in national New Year Speech.

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The Emperor's Imperial New Year speech took place in the Imperial Assembly today as questions loom over international and domestic policies. The Emperor, whose domestic role is limited in the Imperial system, is still tasked with several duties to ensure checks and balances. The Emperor remains in control of most foreign policy decisions. The Emperor tackled many topics in his short speech, which political scientists are saying was both candid and clear.

On domestic topics, the Emperor stressed to the Imperial Assembly the importance of funding education in the nations of the Empire and to ensure "the continued harmonious union" of the constituent state of the Empire. Furthermore, Emperor Paul pushed the Imperial Assembly to address environmental concerns this year. "We know the world is in a challenging position. We care about the environment and we must balance that with the health of our economy. To that end, I ask that we continue to find purchase on compromise that allows for progress and growth". The Emperor also asked the Assembly to reform local election laws to limit the impact of large donations. "In some nations of the Empire, money decides the victor in elections. For a democracy to succeed, there must be transparency. We have not yet fully achieved this. It is in our interest, as citizens, to push for fairer elections based on merit- not money". The Emperor's domestic topics also included points on homelessness and protecting traditional values. "We must ensure that we retain our traditional Catholic and Frankish values in the context of modern perceptions. We must do so with both integrity and courage" he said.

"Whatever the case, the Pact is not the central issue. We will continue to work together with all nations. The Empire will remain committed to partnerships in the Gothic region" said the Emperor, shifting to the international sphere. He went on to note that the Empire's main concerns were for a stable and prosperous "Gothic community" and that there would be a clear understand of those relationships going forward. The Emperor continued to highlight positive achievements, including the continued Imperial support for Ostmark. "The Empire was the first to show its intensive support for the new democracy. We look forward to continually build on that relationship which has proved to be beneficial to both parties" said Emperor Paul. The speech touched on numerous endeavors including the ongoing nation-building of the Alexandrette Commonwealth. "Out of a rough hewn region, we are helping a new nation arise" said the Emperor. The Emperor, seemed to downplay current tensions over the actions of the Tsar. "We know that in some of our partnerships, we are facing challenges. These will, in good time, be resolved through various avenues" said the Emperor vaguely. "In the world, we must let our value sets create a road, upon which; God will guide us. The Frankish people will remain friends to the world and continue to extend their hand to all".
 

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"Don't" says Emperor in stern warning to pirates

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An Imperial Naval Patrol aircraft scans the small islands of the Gothic

In what some have called a delayed response, the Emperor addressed the issue of pirates in the Gothic Sea. The Emperor made it clear in a radio and television address that the Empire "will not tolerate acts which interfere with the prosperity of the Empire or our regional partners". The Emperor stated that Imperial Navy and Air Force patrols over the Gothic would increase as the Empire prepares a "very apt response". The Emperor stressed that it would be developing a plan before taking direct action in the interest of "long-term solutions". He went on to issue a very stern warning that "any pirates operating in the Gothic must heed. Take your ships home. Disarm. Disband. Any pirates captured will face the ancient punishment that all pirates once faced. If you are thinking that this is empty rhetoric and that you may continue such actions- Don't". So far, Imperial Navy only has doubled its air patrol as of Wednesday.
 

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Policing effort underway by Imperial Navy

The Defence Ministry announced that it was launching Operation Sovereign in response to the piracy issue that has emerged in the Gothic. The Imperial Navy will put to sea "in force" the statement read. The Emperor spoke at a press conference and said that "the Empire will not take part in any multinational effort that does not consist solely of Gothic Sea nations". The Emperor reiterated that the problem was a "Gothic Sea problem, demanding solutions from Gothic states". The Emperor stated that "any vessel in international waters, displaying or not displaying identification, will be subject to search". The Ministry statement echoed the Emperor, noting that "the security of the Gothic Sea is highly important. Any challenge to the authority of the Gothic Sea nations in the Gothic is a direct challenge to their sovereignty and lawful powers". The Operation will likely begin at some point this week. "We will fully cooperate with other forces at aimed at security in the Gothic. But nations must understand that this is a question of pride and sovereignty among all Gothic Sea states" concluded the Emperor.
 

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Emperor warns Pirates, Others. "It's going to get messy". 24 hour countdown.

In a speech Monday morning, Emperor Paul announced that Operation Sovereign was officially underway. The operation, thought to be mostly unilateral, is set to be one that includes most of the Frankish fleet. "We are going to be scouring the sea. Frankly, there are many steps we would have preferred to take. We have already done our best to tell our international partners that this was going to be a Gothic matter. A Gothic matter that impacts them, yes, but a Gothic matter nonetheless" he said in response to being asked about the parameters of the operation. "We are going to be devoting sea, air, and satellite surveillance power. Essentially, all of the tools possible. If the pirates decide to pack it in, we will not hunt. They have 24 hours. If we catch them, their crews will be exiled to hard labor and their leaders strung up at the entrance to Gothic Sea harbors. It's going to get messy. Not just for the pirates. But the number of vessels to be stopped is potentially huge. Warships. Freighters. Pleasure craft. They will all heave to for inspection. No matter the flag. No matter the purpose. No matter the flag. If the ship fails to display transponder information, fails to properly identify- they will heave to. If we have suspicions- they will heave to. If they fail to do so- messy is an option we are comfortable with"
 

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Calls for exiting Gothic Sea Pact in Imperial Assembly reach new heights

With the new Tsar at the helm of Tarusa and the current questions regarding the actual state of the Gothic nations, many in the Imperial Assembly are calling for an exit of the Gothic Sea Pact. While the number calling for the exit are in the minority, the number is growing steadily in past weeks. The critics say that Tarusa in its current form is playing a game of extreme pragmatism and self-interest over original long term goals set out by the alliance. "The shift we have seen from Tarusa is intense in such a short time frame. Frankly, the actions have been erratic and shocking" said Member Gerhard Lafer, representing the East of the Grand Duchy of Pilau. Rumors have continued to swirl that the Emperor is dissatisfied with the pact and that he has held high level conversations about choosing an alternate path. The Imperial Assembly, which has minimal powers on international relations, still has the ability to block funding for international initiatives. Last week, Lafer proposed an 80% cut in Gothic Sea Pact funding- which would ultimately cut most cooperative efforts and shut down construction of the joint operations base being built in the Alexandrette Commonwealth. "Ultimately, we need to choose a stable path. CETO is obviously, not an option nor is it prudent to be involved with them" said Lafer. The Member went on to state that "The Holy Frankish Empire deserves better. This partnership will lead us to be shackled to a corpse....or the devil".
 

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Imperial Navy to pause anti-piracy naval operations as destroyers collide, air patrols and satellite surveillance to continue. Emperor: We will vigorously share intelligence on any attacks with anti-piracy nations



Two Imperial Navy captains will face court martials following an incident in the Gothic Sea in which two Imperial Navy ships collided. The two captains were relieved of command by the Emperor, personally. The Emperor is reportedly furious asked the Naval Board to completely reshuffle naval leadership. The two captains, both experienced, were taken into custody upon returning to port. The Emperor has ordered that the Imperial Air Force and Imperial Navy Air Contingent continue their aerial patrols. In addition to aerial patrols, the Emperor stated that "We will vigorously share intelligence on any attacks with anti-piracy nations. While we continue to view this as a Gothic Sea issue, we have always worked with any international partner willing to cooperate in joint endeavors". The Imperial Navy's surface fleet has come under criticism in recent decades for repeated incidents and accusations of incompetency. The Imperial Navy remains the most poorly funded of the Imperial Defence Forces. Despite the criticism and perceived lack of funding, the Imperial Assembly has declined to launch inquiries into command practices, accusations of negligence, and numerous operational failures. Some Assembly Members have stated that the Assembly's reluctance to get involved is a direct result of the influence of the Naval Board's broad reaching authority. The Emperor, using one of his few powers within the Assembly, is expected to order an Assembly Committee be formed and a board of inquiry to take shape.
 

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Imperial Navy receives leadership purge among repeated incidents

The Imperial Navy has issued a statement that indicates a complete restructuring of its command is underway. The statement noted that the Emperor personally relieved 7 captains and an admiral of command and dissolved the Navy Board. The Emperor is technically the head of the military, some are questioning if he has the authority to dissolve the Navy Board- a body of both military and civilians. The civilians on the Navy Board are appointed by Defense Panel, a committee of the Imperial Assembly. The moves by the Emperor come after two destroyers collided during counter-piracy operations. Additionally, an amphibious warfare platform ship (PMAG) was severely damaged in what is now known as the Alexandrette Commonwealth. Allegations of improper training, nepotism, and misuse of funds has plagued the Imperial Navy for some time. The statement indicated that the Imperial Navy would re-establish a new Navy Board as well as a program to further vet potential ship commanders.
 

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Bill introduced in Imperial Assembly would block any funding for the Gothic Sea Alliance and require Assembly approval for any agreements with Tarusa


In a big move, the Imperial Assembly has again shown its discontent for the new Tsar and the growing rift between what the bill calls "national and integral values". Edmund Ripeau, a fast-rising leader in the Orange Party, introduced the bill. The Foreign Funding Security Act (ASE) would ensure that any deals between the Imperial Governments which require funding, would require a vote in the Imperial Assembly. As the Assembly practically controls any budgeting, the Emperor would be backed into a corner according to political analysts. The ASE would also require votes in the Assembly on any action taken to create agreements with Tarusa- a part of the bill which is non-binding for the Emperor who controls the vast majority of foreign policy making. Many are seeing the bill as a direct challenge to the crown and to Tarusa. "Simply put, the Tsar's transgressions are beyond something we can look at based on pragmatism alone. Frankly, I see a huge issue with the level of cooperation that exists" said Ripeau. The tension between the two monarchs continues to be speculative with rumors swirling over the potential Frankish withdrawal from the Gothic Sea Pact. Others have pointed to the lack of a summit between the two Imperial leaders as a sign of specific disharmony. The Emperor remains steadfast in denying any such drama.
 

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Foreign Funding Security Act passes. Frankish-Tarusan relations turn page


The narrow vote of 5 Assembly Members shifted the outcome of the Foreign Funding Security Act vote on Monday morning. The bill, now a law, will require the Emperor to provide information and any proposed agreements with Tarusa to the Imperial Assembly- if they require Imperial funding. It is the first time since 2009 that the Imperial Assembly has fully exercised its funding authority over the Emperor. The Foreign Funding Security Act (ASE) will also force the Emperor to make tough decisions on military contracts. Typically, these contracts are paid in installments with the Imperial Government fronting the money to an extent. These arrangements have been turned. It is only a matter of time until the Imperial Household responds to the challenge by the Imperial Assembly. "There must be a line in the sand. Pragmaticism only goes so far. We cannot sacrifice our integrity" said Orange Party member Edmund Ripeau. The overwhelming concern among Assembly members appears to be the new Tsar's approach. "Brutality. Medieval. These things should not describe a nation with which we actively consider an ally" said Ripeau, expanding on his earlier position. The Emperor may, in theory, ask for a revote. However, that seems very unlikely.
 

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Emperor defends Imperial restraint in world events: "decisions need to be based in reality"

The Emperor defended critics in the Imperial Assembly who stated that the Empire appeared weak and dilatory by eschewing involvement in the current world conflicts. Emperor Paul seemed to go on the offensive today, calling out several members of the Imperial Assembly by name in an unprecedented news conference. The Emperor defended his actions by telling journalists that the Empire considered all of its options. "We made decisions based on the information and intelligence we have. Much intelligence indicated that Tarusa was facing serious internal pressures" the Emperor said of not coming to Tarusa's aid. "Furthermore, conflict simply would not be worth the lives, money, nor grief" he said. The Emperor recounted several phone calls he had with the Tsar and went on to note that the Empire itself was not "receiving threats of any serious nature". The Emperor continued to point to significant resistance to conflict among his own advisors. "Decisions need to be based in reality. Though we vehemently disagree with the actions of many, committing ourselves to conflict would be altering for us as a nation- not for the better".
 

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Moineau Aviation sets targets, will mass produce aircraft for Imperial Air Force

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Moineau Aviation's long-standing project has cleared several roadblocks as it moves forward with its new fighters. Formally known as the Aigle, the new fighter will be known as the K40 Merlin. The Imperial government has approved an order for 400 of the new aircraft with the majority being delivered after 2028. The order is expected to be delivered in 3 batches with the final batch composed of the stealthiest aircraft. The first batch is expected to be the export variation- featuring reduced radar cross-section (though not technically stealth). The approval has quelled concerns by the military and Imperial assembly over the current inventory of license-built and Tarusan aircraft. "The K40 will replace all of our fighter inventory by 2035. Our license-built fighters will be retired first, followed by the Tarusan aircraft" said the Defence Ministry. Procurement has been an ongoing issue for Imperial forces since the early 2000's. The project costs were not publicly released. However, early reports indicate that the government would be placed on a decade-long payment plan as early costs began to skyrocket.
 
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