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Tricolores and Boulevards


Evangeline Anovilis
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When Romanians envisioned a nation state, they most often had a reference in mind - france. The powerful Latin nation state in the West, modern and respected, was the model from which Romania sought to learn and which Romanian inteligentsia fell in love with. Francophilia in Romania shows itself not only in flag and language, much of which was borrowed or inspired by the French, but also by much praise from Romanian scholars, which sought to immitate French culture, which they saw as what modern Latin civilisation meant, contrary to Russian Slavdom, which inspired most of Romania's neighbours.

 

Still, the relations between the states on a political level, were rather lackluster, with no formal contact since long ago, and while Romania had been ambitiously working on itself for years, France seemed to have been preoccupied with its own problems. Maria, Queen of the Romanians had often stated, a meeting with the French would be a bit of a dream come true, however, the Queen had died just a short while ago. Her successor however, Mihaela Constante, was no less convinced, that talks with France would be a good idea, especially for Romania, that once again was the bastion of Latin culture, surrounded by Slavs and Magyars, and so, a message was sent, in French, to the French government in Orléans...

 

Madames et Monsieurs,

 

Although France has been an important nation in Europe for centuries, sadly, circumstances did prevent us from seeking the establishment of official relations with your regime sooner. It is however our full intention to rectify this situation. It is our opinion, that Franco-Romanian relations are too important to not exist, thus, we would like you to send a delegation to Bucharest, in order to work on better relations and to facilitate a helpful exchange of opinions.

 

With regards,

Mihaela Constante, Conducătora and Regent of Romania

 

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To her esteemed highness,

I will be there personally within the week, relations with the nations of Europe is a very important affair to us here in France and Romania is as good a nation as any; we would be honored to establish relations.

~Claus Ebenfiele de Lorraine sur la Rine, Prime Minister of France

 

The Prime Minister didn't disappoint. He arrived in Bucharest promptly two days later with a pair of gentlemen at his shoulders, lightly armed and imposing. He wore his usual style, a sleek black Italian business suit and reflective sunglasses, though a lack of any terrible stress of late had led him to neglect the cigar.

 

He awaited someone to greet him, with a smile.

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As the Prime Minister arrived in Bucharest, the Paris of the East, he would be already awaited by Mihaela Constante, the paramount leader of the Romanian nation, together with a small detachment of the guard, which was securing the area. It was after all not long ago, when the country's monarch got murdered by communist scum. Constante, as so often, was dressed formally, yet strangely avoiding to stand out. A simple light grey business suit, somewhat in tune with her grey eyes and long dark brown hair, was deemed most appropriate. With a friendly smile, she approached the Fench Prime Minister, offering a handshake. "Bonjour Monsieur Ebenfiele, et bienvenue à Bucarest. I'm Mihaela Constante, we have exchanged letters. I'm filled with joy over your visit to our humble country.", the Conducătora stated in perfect French, a language spoken by many upper-class Romanians. In fact, Italian and French were spoken by more Romanians, than English, Russian or German. "I would hope, our hospitality will be to your liking, Monsieur Ebenfiele. If you would please follow me. A more suitable location for our talks has already been prepared."

 

Accompanied by guards on horse, the reinforced state car would drive them along the Șoseaua Kiseleff, underneath Arcul de Triumf and along the Calea Victoriei to the Piața Palatului, where the Royal Palace was located. While the recent snowfalls and cloudy weather had given the national capital a bit of a triste atmosphere, the interior of the palace was much warmer and in one of the quite elaborate meeting rooms, all had been prepared for the meeting. One of the servants immediatly tended to the Prime Minister and showed him to his seat at the meeting table.

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The Prime Minister took a seat and took a look around, "I must say, the place is rather nice." he said, remaining within his native French, since it was clear that that would be an acceptable language for this exchange, "So, what does Romania wish of the French today Mademoiselle Constante?"

Edited by Shave N Haircut
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"Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Ebenfiele. It is good to see Bucarest is to your liking.", Mihaela Constante stated in French, glossing over the fact that the Premier may just have insulted her. "As I wrote in my communique to you, I found it utterly regrettable that there had not yet been any diplomatic contact between our countries, especially considering the cultural ties and historic friendship between our peoples. And while tensions are on the rise, such cannot and should not be denied, I think such only underlines the need for dialogue between countries. Surely, the traditional centre of European diplomacy would understand as much."

 

As Constante made a short pause, one of the many servants approached the Prime Minister, asking whether he would wish to have tea or coffee, as well as maybe a piece of cake. The room was one Constante had chosen carefully, for its historic significance, just as well as for the decor.

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"Well, Mademoiselle," The Prime Minister said, admiring the venue absently, "I admit that the Empress and I have had some reservations about diplomacy with your nation due to the tensions with our allies, but it is also true that it is utterly unacceptable that we didn't establish any ties because of something so trivial; A good third party dialogue can easily smooth over such things, especially when the nations share such a history as ours." he indicates that he would like some dark coffee with a slight smile to the servant, turning down the cake on account of a diet he was engaged in at present, "That having been said, we're eager to see what sort of agreement we can come to for the establishment of bilateral relations."

 

"So," He leans forward eagerly, "What do you propose? Let us get down to the meat of the talk."

 

[spoiler]OOC: And that's the sort of thing that happens when you only skim a post. My apologies, that's quite embarrassing.[/spoiler]

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Constante nodded. "Well, our late Queen understood it, to keep working relations, even if there were differences in opinion. For the longest of times, Yugoslavia and Romania have had a decent understanding and mutual respect, which, while sadly doing not too much in alleviating the larger tensions, prevented seperate ones from flaring up.", she explained, silently evaluating the many different options she could explore. "Such an understanding is the very least I would hope to achieve, Monsieur Ebenfiele. Romania holds no ill will against the South Slavs or the French. There might be Romanians living in your country, but they are mostly emmigrants, whom we are already more than content with, if they are treated decently. The main point of contention, one might say, is not one between our two nations."

 

"I would dare say, the greatest issue our country has with yours is that there is a number of states we take interest in, to not be attacked, while I would guess it is your interest to ensure the safety of yourself and your allies. The disputes in Europe are problematic, but I would think, with effort put into deescalation, it might be possible to allow for solutions that can satisfy at least the basic needs of all states. If you don't mind, may I ask you to explain to me your position on the current European stage and maybe also your idea of what would be the most appropriate solution. Excuse, if that does seem kind of roundabout, but I am quite interested in hearing your position first, and while I cannot make promises, I would think both sides need to be taken into consideration, if we do not want a mere struggle of elimination." Mihaela Constante sighed silently at the thought. While her expression was in general friendly and polite, Constante rarely showed much emotion. And even now, while her grey eyes carefully looked at Ebenfiele in expectation, she remained calm and distanced.

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Constante nodded. "Well, our late Queen understood it, to keep working relations, even if there were differences in opinion. For the longest of times, Yugoslavia and Romania have had a decent understanding and mutual respect, which, while sadly doing not too much in alleviating the larger tensions, prevented seperate ones from flaring up.", she explained, silently evaluating the many different options she could explore. "Such an understanding is the very least I would hope to achieve, Monsieur Ebenfiele. Romania holds no ill will against the South Slavs or the French. There might be Romanians living in your country, but they are mostly emmigrants, whom we are already more than content with, if they are treated decently. The main point of contention, one might say, is not one between our two nations."

 

"I would dare say, the greatest issue our country has with yours is that there is a number of states we take interest in, to not be attacked, while I would guess it is your interest to ensure the safety of yourself and your allies. The disputes in Europe are problematic, but I would think, with effort put into deescalation, it might be possible to allow for solutions that can satisfy at least the basic needs of all states. If you don't mind, may I ask you to explain to me your position on the current European stage and maybe also your idea of what would be the most appropriate solution. Excuse, if that does seem kind of roundabout, but I am quite interested in hearing your position first, and while I cannot make promises, I would think both sides need to be taken into consideration, if we do not want a mere struggle of elimination." Mihaela Constante sighed silently at the thought. While her expression was in general friendly and polite, Constante rarely showed much emotion. And even now, while her grey eyes carefully looked at Ebenfiele in expectation, she remained calm and distanced.

"France merely wishes there to be some degree of peace on the continent, and for the continent to be ruled from local areas, which brings us to our main problem at the present time." the Prime Minister says, "We wish to halt any further encroachment of the Carthaginian state on European soil, as much as possible. They already tyrannize quite enough in the Iberian and Italy, we have no intention of letting them gain anything in Britain."

 

"That's essentially the only goal of France at this time when it comes to foreign affairs. I hope the explanation has helped you in some way." He said, looking at her equally expectantly.

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"May I ask, on what information you base these claims of 'tyranny', Monsieur Ebenfiele?", Constante responded without any hint of surprise. "This point has already been raised once by the Yugoslav monarch, so I really wonder why it is people accuse Carthage of such heineous actions. As it stands, Romania knows that Carthaginean posessions in the Mediterranean are ruled by a stable and quite humane government which has not caused any added burden to the people living in their lands. And as far as I am aware, besides Sicily, Sardinia and the Southern parts of the Iberian peninsula, to which Carthage holds onto for considerable time now already, no further 'encroachment' has happened, other than the establishment of protectorates. Protectorates, which have slowly made place for independent states again, as we can see on the Italian peninsula."

 

She paused for a moment, for a short time evaluating something, before going on. "Our ally in Carthage are an old and diverse culture. And it is our hope, that states come to accept this fellow nation of the Mediterranean, even if it has a capital in North Africa. Geography, which is what at least the Yugoslav Kralj pointed towards, is to me a pretty arbitrary demarcation line. For millenia, the Atlantic seperated Europeans from the North American continent. These days, the trans-atlantic trade can be seen as much more connecting than seperating. I would caution to build a policy around simply geographic boundaries, as the Mediterranean, at least to me, is not simply the border between Europe and Africa... It is a region of its own between the two, partially overlapping with the two. France herself for quite some time had declared Algeria part of Metropolitan France, so I would think, it should not be too foreign for you. What I want to say, is that I think, there is not as much to fear from Carthage, as people make it out to believe. And by pushing Carthage out and isolating it from the rest of us, we only create conflict where I think there needs not be conflict."

 

Constante leaned back in her chair, trying to judge the reaction of Ebenfiele. "Monsieur Ebenfiele, I think as long as we treat all our neighbours with the necessary respect and are willing to consider their security too, I think, peace in Europe is not too hard to realise. Of course, I would not say that Carthage, France and Romania alone are all that quarrels on this continent, so further disputes need to be resolved, but as long as we try to engage, not simply oppose opponents and as long as we keep up dialogue, not fall into entrenched bloc politics, peace is a very realistic goal."

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"Perhaps 'expansionist and aggressively Anti-French' would be a better way to put it." The Prime Minister stated, "Many of their actions, including the most recent attempts to seize Britain, another nation that expressed decidedly negative views of our nation, are clearly attempts to isolate and contain what they view as a dangerous state, which is an entirely unsubstantiated view."

 

"Their actions are highly unilateral and they're prone to threats of violence." he continues, "We can't help but have a negative view of them, if you'll understand. Their protectorates are little more than excuses to emplace troops and before the Celts decided to make a nation for themselves they were well on their way to annexing the whole of Spain. As to France's former views, we would prefer that the actions of our grandfathers not be held against us. By asking us to leave Carthage be you ask us to place ourselves at risk."

 

"France isn't fond of bloc politics but it's becoming increasingly clear that the only way we can keep our voice is to have powerful friends as well as being powerful ourselves. I understand what you say however, and the viewpoint from which it springs, I only ask you to understand what it looks like from where we are."

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Contemplating for a moment, Mihaela Constante responded. "While I can see that you do not wish for Carthage to annex more land in Europe, I would think that the idea that such policy is motivated by anti-French sentiment is a bit hard to believe. To my knowledge, Punic expansion mostly has happened into the Southern parts of the Iberian peninsula, Sardinia and Sicily. Nothing indicates any attempt at annexing the Northern half of Iberia or any other European territory. I'm not asking you to leave Carthage be completely, but I do ask you to please not consider their policies to be construed as encirclement of your nation."

 

"On Britain, I would think that the best way of preventing escalation, is the preservation of a certain status quo. Britain should be ruled by Britons, not by Alvonians. The establishment of a British native government is what we hope for. Similarly, I can reassure you, that Romania has no designs on staying in former Alvonia for longer than is necessary to hand over the territory to German governance. We have no wish to permanently station troops in Central Europe close to your borders and they will be gone hopefully within the year, so that Germany once again can be ruled by Germans, not by us. Similarly, as long as France does not expand into the Italian peninsula, with the fall of the Cisalpine Republic, should Savoy fall, we are not inclined to prevent their territorial integration into France.", she stated in a matter-of-fact manner. "Europe has become a troublesome place, but I would hope that we can establish an order that everyone can live with. I'm pretty sure that the French people do feel a certain threat of encirclement arising from Anglo-Punic forces in England and Iberia, but I don't think that antagonism will solve such. Romania is not interested in war with France and will not commit to any attack on France, unless it is defense of our allies. Any attack on France will not find our support."

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"Frankly, fear is an understatement for how the French public views current events, and I should point out that Britain should no more be ruled by Carthaginians than Alvonians." he pauses, "The issue of Savoy has been a slap in the face of our pride for quite a long time, and while I believe that you wouldn't make any effort to halt reintegration, there is unfortunately no indication that others wouldn't.

 

"It's hard to avoid a view of encirclement really, when they so aggressively step on the toes of our late friends. Frankly if their pattern continues, when Savoy falls I would half expect Carthaginian forces to arrive there before we even knew about it. We have no interest in expanding into Italy, nor Germany, nor the Iberian, nor anywhere really, except to reappropriate territory which is ours under the condition of the collapse of the government operating there, which we grudgingly recognize.

 

"I wish more than anything that in my position I could safely share your views, but strategically speaking, we are at the mercy of, at best, promises. We don't intend to fight, of course, how could we ever expect victory when we are surrounded on all sides by their allies with none of our own? You won't forget, of course, that France no longer sees friendly faces anywhere in Europe but Naples." the Prime Minister says, "They are all either collapsed or have abandoned us for nebulous reasons. We trust our neighbors about half as far as we can throw them. Even if this weren't so and we were well supported, like we have been in the past, we aren't particularly aggressive in our goals and in truth rarely have been."

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"Romania sees no point fighting over Savoy. We are tied to our allies defensively. Savoy isn't some Punic or British territory and it isn't part of our own patrimony, so I can assure you that we at this time see no reason to spend ressources at preventing any integration, should Savoy fall.", Constante stated her position on the matter.

 

"I leave it to you, whether you think my word to be credible or not. I would doubt there is much of a point lying, nor do we have a history of doing so. We may be a Balkan country, but we aren't that Balkan country. Monsieur Ebenfiele, one can see friendly faces, when one tries to see friendly faces. Romania has been isolated before, when our borders were under siege from Magyars, Serbs, some Greeks and Russian communists, supported by your former friends, Stockholm and Vienna. Why we now exist is because we acted with caution, but we also tried to overcome differences with those neighbours that did not disintegrate. I do not see a peaceful order come from pushing my armies to the Rhine and beyond to impose something on you, I see a peaceful future come about when the Europeans learn to properly conduct themselves with an ounce of mutual respect, not act like a bunch of utter retards.", the Romanian leader remarked coldly. "Even in the glory days of old, we gave some respect to our neighbour. Which is why it was an achievement to have beaten them. I do not want to beat your country though, but this ounce of respect is better off restored."

 

After a short pause, where she sunk into some though, Constante would look at Ebenfiele judgingly. "Monsieur, what Frenchman do you think I hold in the highest regard?"

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The Prime Minister took a moment to consider the question, considering whether he should find some insulting implication in her words and deciding that doing so could not possibly be constructive. He wanted more than anything to find a positive result from this meeting. After a moment longer he responded.

 

"I do not want it to be thought that we do not respect you. We hold a great respect for all the nations of the world so long as they appear to extend us the same courtesy and you certainly have. We also have no interest in war, notwithstanding the Empress' apparent obsession with the days of Napoleonic glory and her sometimes heavy use of theories of politics pioneered by one Theodore Rosevelt, despite their relative obsolescence. We've effectively conducted the peace in the recent past, we plan to continue."

 

He pauses to consider an answer to her question after giving these few comments, "One would think, from what you have said, that the answer to your question is Henry the Fourth or some similar figure."

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"Not really, Monsieur. Though, Bon Henri Quatre was a good monarch, I'm disinclined to look at him for a model.", Constante replied with a smile. "The one I hold in the highest regard would be Monsieur Talleyrand, surely, one of your nation's finest diplomats there was. He may have never worn a crown, he may not have shown a great deal of personal charisma, he may have served across multiple regimes, but that is, in my opinion, what makes him a great man. He got where he ended up, because of his skill, he earned the respect of Republic, Empire and Kingdom alike for his diplomatic genius and... he did what he did not for a single monarch or president. He did what he did for the nation. Without trying to insult the many other great people, of which your nation has many, Monsieur Ebenfiele, to turn victories into hegemony needs nowhere nearly as much, as to turn the defeats at Leipzig and Waterloo into a diplomatic victory at Vienna. France entered the Congress defeated and broken, it left it as the equal of those who vanquished its armies, as a great power."

 

For a moment, Constante paused. "Your nation may have lost much, but France should not be done yet. I would expect a nation that managed to hold out despite its Revolution, a nation that returned to glory within years from its defeats in 1814 and 1871, feats noone would have thought could be achieved in decades, I would expect such a nation to maybe struggle. But I would not think your nation is yet defeated. I gave you my promises, I intent to hold them. I'm hopeful, France will not disappoint me."

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The Prime Minister winces a little in the face, "I was afraid you might say that. To be truthful, though he did negotiate beautifully at the Congress of Vienna, for which many in France still admire him, his betrayal of the Empire is viewed with some large degree of contempt by the Empress and most of the high level government. He was vehemently opposed to Napoleon the First to the point of actively attempting to sabotage his efforts, if one were to flatter the effect of his opposition one might say that his performance at the Congress would have been unnecessary if he himself hadn't been involved in French affairs, but that is a rather ignorant view."

 

"You're also not the first to express such views, if the account of the Grande Marechal is to be believed." he continues, "I'm not so dramatic as he is fortunately. Le Prince de Talleyrand was indeed great at what he did."

 

"Regardless, France rarely disappoints, and when we do it isn't for long. An understanding can indeed be established."

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"I'm pretty sure, Talleyrand carries not too much of the blame that Europe had come to despise the French rule. So, yes, I would agree it is a bit of an ignorant view. Hegemony is a thing that has its benefits and its drawbacks. As has Empire. My opinion on Monsieur Talleyrand is my opinion. I see no need to try convince your Empress of it. But I would hope you take my words on France and my promise with you, so as to coney these to those in Orléans.", Constante responded politely.

 

"I would hope that you can overcome your problems and that you might find more friends in Europe and the world. I am glad that you found some support in Naples and we see this Franco-Italian tie as a positive contribution to European security at this moment. I will convey this positive opinion also to Naples once we meet, so that hopefully differences at large can be overcome."

 

"Is there anything else you'd want to discuss? Or should we call it a day, Monsieur Ebenfiele?"

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"I am simply the agent of my Sovereign's desire to see security in our time." he makes a simple gesture, "If you have nothing to offer, I've not got much to share that I feel Romania would be entirely comfortable with, so we'll simply have to leave each other with a good talk under our belts and a foundation for further meetings and more in depth discourse."

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Constante nodded. "I would think, this meeting has been a very productive one, even if not much has been signed. I would hope that relations between our two countries can improve over time and that cooperation sets in in Europe. Romania has been against hegemonial ambitions in Europe in the past and will continue to advocate against it in the fture. Should France feel like adressing any issues with us in the future, we are open to talks."

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