(OOC: This post, too, was done as a sort of open RP in the League of Novaris server. Thanks to Shadow, Cowlass, Gonggong, Socdyl, and Dead for participating.)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building
July 5, 2021
4:20 PM (UTC-7)
Eoforwine Æthelstanson’s day had rapidly become a complicated one. As soon as he had heard about Æthelwine’s remarks, he quickly moved to clear up his schedule and to go over to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to play damage control.
It, too, is a threat to the peace.
Those accursed words were still echoing around in his head. They sounded surreal, but Eoforwine knew that he was not in a dream. No, this nightmare was very real, and one of his own creation.
He looked at the display showing the Secretary-General’s press conference before glancing to Foreign Minister Sæwine Wealdmundson.
“He’s serious about this.”
The Prime Minister did not want to believe that this was the course of action Æthelwine had chosen to take. Not after everything Æthelwine had done in faithful service of Tretrid. And yet he still had to face this very unfortunate reality.
You too, then.
Eoforwine didn’t truly know how he felt about this whole deal. If anything, he was numb, and was burying himself in micromanaging damage control so he wouldn’t have to feel anything.
There was perhaps that innate instinct to lash out like a child throwing a temper tantrum, to use the full resources of the Kingdom of Tretrid to bear on the League of Novaris. He pushed down those thoughts as soon as they came up.
He had to keep his reaction under control. He was the most powerful person in all of Tretrid, if not South Novaris. He had to at least act like he was worthy of the office, even though he believed he wasn’t.
Lashing out would do Tretrid no favors.
Sæwine nodded and handed him a paper. “I took the liberty of having some staffers draft a statement, though given the nature of this I think it’s best if you personally approve this.”
Eoforwine read through the document before grabbing a pen and scribbling out some parts, before writing a few comments of his own. “I want our ultimate message here to be that Tretrid is, whatever Æthelwine might say, a productive member of the League and that his actions today have thrown his ability to moderate the Novaran Council impartially into question. I don’t think we should push for Æthelwine’s removal, at least for the time being, if only because the optics would look quite bad.”
Yes, the optics. Tretrid’s international standing. He knew how hollow his focus on that was. It was no substitute for truly standing up for peace.
“I’ll send the document back with your feedback, then. Do you also want to review the revised version before we send it to our Ambassador to the League?”
Eoforwine looked back at the screen, where Æthelwine was still giving his press conference. “If there’s any upside to this, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be giving Volscina any preferential treatment, even if his harshest words are for us. He’ll hopefully be similarly harsh on them.”
Of course, Æthelwine wouldn’t have needed to have been harsh on Tretrid if Eoforwine had just exercised more caution with Correva. It was his fault and he knew it.
It was his own web of lies and deception that had forced this reckoning.
July 5, 2021
4:00 PM (UTC-8)
Some staffers in the Legatorre had worked to replace one of the two LN flags on the stage with that of Tretrid. The lectern was now flanked on one side by the gold flag of the League of Novaris and on the other side by the green flag of Tretrid.
Beorhtsige Wulfricson, a bespectacled man in his late thirties, walked up to the lectern. As the Tretridian Ambassador to the League of Novaris, it was his duty to speak on behalf of the Tretridian government at the Legatorre.
“Good afternoon. The government of Tretrid, as it has always done after the first meeting of each session of the Novaran Council, will outline the issues that it believes are important for the League’s ultimate goal of enabling international cooperation within Novaris.”
“The most pressing matter facing Novaris currently is that of the future of Cavellan. Last year’s crisis showed just how willing various groups were to disrupt the Cavellanese people’s right to self-determination. It is the position of the Tretridian government that the current solution, that of a League-endorsed Tavari-Durakan occupation of the country, is only viable as a temporary fix used to buy time for a more lasting one. The Cavellanese Question must be solved, and it is our position that Cavellan’s right to decide their own future must be respected.
“When it comes to less extraordinary matters, Tretrid will continue to advocate for the respect of sapient rights and political freedoms throughout Novaris. We believe that everyone needs to be treated with the respect and dignity that they all deserve. We will continue to be one of the foremost voices for democracy within Novaris.
“We will also continue our foreign aid initiatives to impoverished and developing countries, and will push for more action from the Novaran Aid and Development Office. We believe that everybody should have the chance to live a prosperous life without needing to constantly worry about whether there will be food on the table. It is the duty of the more affluent countries in Novaris to help those torn by war or famine. Tretrid will continue to lead by example with foreign aid.
“Tretrid will also continue to push for the expansion of the Novaran Transportation Network, both for the tangible benefits it gives for the League’s members, but also to prove that the League can both symbolically and literally build bridges between countries.”
Beorhtsige took a deep breath. Those remarks had been prepared more than a week in advance. Now for the statement that he had been emailed about twenty minutes ago.
“Lastly, the government of Tretrid would like to deliver its response to remarks made by Secretary-General Heardson earlier today.”
The ambassador had been quite blindsided by the statement Æthelwine had given. Beorhtsige had once worked directly under Heardson, and it simply didn’t sound like something he’d say.
Of course, professional ambassador that he was, Beorhtsige had stuck to his script when it was his turn to speak and reported back to Cynebury for further instructions. Their response was, well, the one that had just been sent to him.
“The government of Tretrid is shocked and aggrieved to hear the accusations made by Secretary-General Heardson, and maintains that it has only acted in the best interests of the Cavellanese people. While we believe that the circumstances surrounding the collapse of Correva have served as a wake-up call to Novaris and the League, we strongly object to the characterization of our actions as escalatory, and maintain that the crisis was entirely the result of Volscina’s pursuit of irredentism and its willingness to violate Correvan sovereignty.
“Furthermore, the Secretary-General’s accusation that the Tretridian actions during the Correvan crisis were intended to push for Volscine removal from the League, thereby weakening the League for Tretridian political gain is categorically false and a mischaracterization of our foreign policy principles. Tretridian policy during the crisis was aimed at demonstrating to the continent that Volscina was directly violating the sovereignty of its neighbor. We continue to hold that it is no longer acceptable conduct for any state to threaten to invade its neighbor and to directly violate its territorial sovereignty, especially when both countries in question are part of the League whose very purpose is to enable the mediation of disputes through diplomacy instead of by force.
“Lastly, the Secretary-General’s statement has called into question his ability to carry out his duties impartially. The Secretary-General’s office was never meant to be used as a soapbox for any individual to announce their political opinions to the world, and there is no reason for Mr. Heardson to start using it in that way. He is not only undermining his own credibility as a diplomat but also that of the office of the Secretary-General as a neutral moderator of discussion, that of the LN Secretariat as a disinterested pan-Novaran administrative body, and that of the League of Novaris itself as an organization that can produce results that are favorable for peace.
“I now welcome any questions the press may wish to ask me in regards to Tretrid’s future plans as a member of the League of Novaris.”
A reporter for the Vinlander news source For King and Country raised their hand.
“In reference to the Secretary-General’s question, when will we see Tretrid stop their grandstanding and admit for once to the public that they are not doing what is best for them, but what is best to keep the wealth of the Tretrid elite’s heavy?”
Beorhtsige supposed a news source in such a country as Gamlevinland was bound to, well, be liberal with the truth . Maybe the loaded questions could have stood to be tad less obvious.
“Such a question relies on the presupposition that Tretrid is acting in the interests of its elite instead of the public at large, which the Vinlander reporter who asked would know is completely false and a politically motivated fabrication if they had gone to the trouble of accessing the relevant records, which, I should mention, the Tretridian government has freely made available to the public in the interests of transparency, instead of asking a loaded question in bad faith.”
They would have to try harder than that. Another day, perhaps.
The next question came from a Kemonomimi reporter from Red Dove , a news network with a following in the Federation, and more recently, Ymirland.
“The People of Ymirland would like to question about the Novaran Transportation Network. Concerns has been raised about potential civil rights issues coming from our neighbors, in particular Jarisven. As such the people of Ymirland holds a embargo on Jarisven. Would the new transportation system link the countries or would nations be allowed to opt-out from linking ourselves with such nations.
“Our second concern would be coming of the Novaris Aid, would this be open for all Novaris nations, or would restrictions be set in place for potential bad actors abusing the system. If so, what safeguards would be set in place?
“The third concern is what is the Tretrid and the League as a whole doing to secure the democratic will of the Correvan people?”
Ah, finally, productive questions. Beorhtsige gave a smile.
“I’m glad you asked. Firstly, NTN construction is only allowed to occur within countries who have acceded to membership in the Novaran Transportation Commission, and individual countries within the NTC largely retain sovereignty over what construction can occur. Thus, if one country is in the NTC but its neighbor isn’t, or if both are in the NTC but one of them objects to a connection, an NTN connection between the two countries will not be built.
“Secondly, we believe that states that request aid should be reviewed by the Novaran Aid and Development Office–within reason, of course, we don’t want too much red tape–and that the use of aid should be monitored by both the League and independent watchdogs to prevent the misappropriation of aid or other abuses. We strongly believe in the power of transparency to ensure integrity.
“Thirdly, the League has done a lot to stabilize Cavellan after the collapse of the autocratic Correvan government, and we believe that gives the League a great amount of maneuvering space within which it can restore democracy within the territory. It is the stance of the Tretridian government that, firstly, we ensure that the current military occupation is temporary, and, secondly, that the future of Cavellan is in line with the vision the Cavellanese people have for it. We believe that, for example, an independent, democratic Cavellan would be very well suited for such a role.”
Beorhtsige picked another reporter. “Krzysztofmiasto News Station.” Some broadcast from Piorunpreria.
“What is Tretrid’s stance on nations using their imperial power to exploit other nations and get away with war crimes. Alongside this what is Tretrid planning on doing about these nations, especially referring to what has just happened with Korćetta in the Zachodnipaństwo War for Independence.”
Beorhtsige’s particular assignment meant that, while he was intimately familiar with what was happening diplomatically in Novaris, he only knew so much about what was going on in Gondwana. Cynebury liked to compartmentalize.
The question was something that pertained to international law, however, and the general rule of thumb was that Tretrid was generally to defend the rule of law. After all, it did bring some level of stability and predictability to foreign affairs. It helped, too, that Tretrid’s place in the world was secure while the status quo held.
“We believe that no country is above the international rule of law,” he answered. “Tretrid will continue to campaign for the respect of sapient rights, the laws of war, and customary international law. We will push, through our bilateral relations as well as through international organizations, to make sure countries that violate these principles will pay the consequences.”
It was certainly vague and noncommittal enough to be sufficient for now, unless Cynebury were to suddenly take an interest in Gondwana.
“What kind of aid does Tretrid and the League plan to administer? Will it be purely financial or are necessities such as education, sheltering, and medication also within the foreign aid plans?”
The next question came from a Kuduk reporter. “What kind of aid does Tretrid and the League plan to administer? Will it be purely financial or are necessities such as education, sheltering, and medication also within the foreign aid plans?”
That was a question that Beorhtsige had prepared a response to.
“Our government prefers to take a holistic approach to promoting international government, and so we believe that money alone is not sufficient to bring a country to prosperity. We believe basic necessities like medicine are critical for foreign aid programs and we will push for their inclusion in foreign aid programs by the League.”
He then called on another Kemonomimi reporter, apparently representing the Association of the Servants of Akua. He silently decided that since he hadn’t previously thought hard about the Secretariat’s decisions over who got to be part of the LN Press Corps, he wasn’t about to question it now.
“Question for religious minorities within the league. Akuanists have long been discriminated against historically in several member state nations, does the Tretrid and League as a whole have a plan to promote religious freedom within the League or would it be an exclusively national issue for member states.”
And there was the inevitable religious freedom question. Now, there was a minefield. It was one of those cases where Cynebury decided to go with realpolitik in regards to maintaining friendly relations with Meagharia and Hustreache (especially considering Meagharia’s connections to Durakia and Hustreache’s connections to Great Morstaybishlia). The truth would cause… a quite large public relations disaster for Tretrid.
“Tretrid holds the principles of religious freedom quite dear, due to its own past periods of intense religious persecution. It is inscribed in the core of Tretridian constitutional law, after all. We believe that people all over Novaris should have the right to choose who to worship and whether to worship at all. One of the primary goals of our current foreign policy is the promotion of global sapient rights through intense bilateral and multilateral engagement. However, at the same time, the ultimate decision regarding religious freedom can only be made by the people themselves, as they should have the right to choose their own destiny. As such, we will do everything we can to promote religious freedom while not excessively interfering with the internal affairs of other countries.”
The caveat was quite strategically placed, and it sounded nice while being vague enough to allow flexibility in interpretation.
The Red Dove reporter asked the next question almost immediately after Beorhtsige was finished speaking. “You claim Tretrid is doing everything it can to promote religious freedom but still has relationships with nations such as Hustreache and Meagharia. Shouldn’t a nation which claims to value religious freedom and democracy be concern with being in bed with such anti-free nations such as them? Tretrid still holds an alliance with Meagharia which openly guns down anyone who believes in any religion. Does Tretrid hold itself accountable to dealing with such nations or does it fall to the wayside and hope all will ignore it?”
Beorhtsige distinctly recalled a pair of reports over policy regarding those countries. The first one detailed a “carrot-and-stick” doctrine as applied in Hustreache, and the second one, written years later, discussed the feasibility of applying such a system in Meagharia, ultimately recommending it.
Due to their nature, the only people who knew about those reports outside of Cynebury were the relevant ambassadors and their chargés d’affaires . And the current LN Secretary-General.
It just so happened that those reports had been written by Æthelwine Heardson. The Secretary-General knew a lot about the inner workings of the Tretridian Foreign Ministry, and it remained to be seen whether he would be using his detailed knowledge about Tretridian diplomacy against Tretrid itself. Everyone was still trying to comprehend what had happened, after all.
“The apparent hypocrisy is not lost on the Tretridian government either, but you should rest assured that we are working behind the scenes to improve religious freedoms in Meagharia and Hustreache. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss details with the public, as many of the details are highly classified.”
It wasn’t a particularly strong answer, but it was probably better to look somewhat bad than to ruin at least one bilateral relationship.
The reporter from Krzysztofmiasto News Station raised his hand again. “Do you have anything specifically planned to physically reprimand Korćetta for everything they did? Or are you just going to scold them and hope they stop what they’re doing in the future?”
Perhaps he should have asked Wealdbeald Ohtbeornson, the Tretridian Ambassador-at-Large to Gondwana, who would be better prepared to speak on such matters. Not to mention how this press conference was specifically about Tretrid’s agenda in the League of Novaris for the current Novaran Council session. It was probably time to exert some message discipline and put the matter down.
“If Piorunpreria wishes to seek reparations or a war crime tribunal from Korcetta, they can pursue it at their pleasure. Our government would be willing to help along the process, but it must ultimately be their initiative.”
“Thank you, that is all,” the Piorunprerian said.
The next question was an older-looking Visnetir Kemonomimi in somewhat old-fashioned brown suit.
“From De Radikale , our readers wished to know about Tretrid’s stance in an acknowledgement of its position as a key power on the continent. How, if any thought is given at all, does Tretrid wish to manage the balance of power between the smaller and larger states of Novaris - in regard to the way in which diplomatic interaction on Novaris may often lead to the voices of smaller powers to be drowned out by the preeminent blocs surrounding Tretrid and Volscina?
That was a fascinating question. A shame that Beorhtsige was not at liberty to fully answer it.
“Tretrid’s security relies almost entirely on the alliances it maintains, so we have a natural interest in valuing each and every relation that we hold with other countries. Since taking unilateral action may harm these relationships, it is within our interest more often than not to take into consideration what stances other countries have. An argument has certainly been made by some foreign policy analysts that this effect is most visible with how Durakia supposedly has a significant amount of sway over Tretridan policy. Similarly, we generally tend to consider what unaligned countries’ stances are in regards to various issues, since we have a similar interest in not antagonizing those countries enough for them to tip the balance of power against Tretrid. I hope that may provide some insight into your question.”
As far as the things that he couldn’t say, well, it was generally in the interests of smaller powers to try to balance between the two blocs, which simultaneously gave them strategic flexibility, forced a balance of power (which would keep one dominant power from drowning out their interests), and allowed them to play the two sides off each other to their advantage. That was the situation where the smaller powers had the most say, and a situation that Cynebury wanted to avoid.
In an ideal world (for Cynebury), Tretrid wouldn’t have to listen to other powers, and it would have room to do what it wanted without regard for anyone else. However, Tretrid didn’t simply have enough hard power to force hegemony on Novaris, so it had to make do with carefully crafted diplomatic relations instead. It was a decent substitute, but not perfect.
He checked the time. It was getting late. He silently decided that the next question would be his last. He pointed to a reporter.
“This is the Cynebury Herald. Beyond your prepared remarks, what personal thoughts do you have on Secretary-General Heardson’s statement?”
“Unless Mr. Heardson has unexpectedly changed in massive ways, I personally believe that he sincerely believes he is doing the right thing. However, if so, his actions are severely misguided and call into question his judgment. If he wants to ensure peace in Novaris, condemning one of its powers central to the international system is not the way to do so.”
He paused. “Unfortunately, that is all the time I have to answer questions. Further inquiries may be directed towards my office or towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thank you.”
Beorhtsige gave a practiced smile and wave before walking off the podium.