Frida Teigland, the Prydanian Pan-Gotic Union representative since the formation of the Peace not Blood/Conservative Party coalition government, leaned into her mic.
"Vaknaðu...assembled delegates, I would like to raise the prospect of ending the suspension of the Kingdom of Andrenne. They are a founding member of this union, and it seems only appropriate since the fall of the junta government that led to their suspension in the first place."
Ellac Rugen adjusted his fur cloak before standing, with Magnar Hureg currently back in Essalanea for the gathering of the moot it now fell to him to represent his nation. He had been briefed on the particulars of his assignment, but the PGU had a reputation for being combustible, he suspected that as with all sessions this one would be a challenge from start to finish. The king's statement would do little to smooth the tension in the room, Gaiseric's opinion of Andrenne had soured immensely following the atrocity of Kosada, and given how utterly incapable of reason Andrenne frequently proved, Ellac suspected the letter he was about to read would be the prelude to conflict and not resolution.
"Esteemed members of the Pan Gotic Union, brothers in blood and unity, my king has bid me deliver this statement on his behalf in the hopes that we can reach an amicable resolution to this situation," Ellac said in a gentle but clear voice, his bardic training appearing to pay off
"Fellow children of Gothis, I Gaiseric Volkmann, king of Essalanea and lord of the clans do greet you all in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship, kinsfolk I will be blunt when I say that I would welcome the return of Andrenne to our halls now that the honourless tyrant has been dethroned. However, the sins of Kosada are still deep scars in the minds of those who lived through that atrocity, I cannot in good conscience agree to the return of a nation that acts with such dishonor, not without guarantees. Therefore I challenge the new leaders of Andrenne, if they are truly better than the swine they replace then let them prove it! I call upon the leaders of Andrenne to sign the Svattenstad accords and make a solemn commitment to never again taint the fields of Gothis with the spilling of innocent blood. If they agree to this request we will have seen that they value brotherhood over pride, if they do not however then I mark them as no better than the tyrant Lukas and will do all in my power to ensure that no Andrennian ever sets foot in the PGU again! This is a chance for redemption, do not squander it!"
Having read the letter Ellac bowed and returned to his chair and waited for the arguments to begin.
Gunnhilder Skrøder, the Vallian representative to the Pan-Gotic Union, retained a calm composure despite the tense atmosphere. Being a native Alliaronian, she shares a pacifistic and non-violent purview of how the world should flow around her. But today, the news was broken out by the Prydanian representative Teigland. A petition to remove suspension of Andrenne. Something that, to the diplomats back at Friegöndt, are vehemently against despite the pacifistic nature of her country. Skrøder herself had read heavily on the history of Gothis, and she personally knows that the Andrennians are notorious for their aggression.
As the Essalanian representative read his king's letter in a bardic fashion, she couldn't help but to be enthralled at the Essalanian king's fashionably aggressive objection over to the thought- or even the decision- of Andrenne's return in the Pan-Gotic Union. When Rugen bowed and sat down, Skrøder keyed in her microphone and stood, as a sign to speak.
"With all due respect to the other Pan-Gotic Union members and delegation," she spoke, "but why must we even entertain the Andrennians back into our organisation? Yes- the Andrennians are a founding member of the Union. Yes, that prestige allows them to exert a sizable influence within all of us." Skrøder stopped for a moment to look at everyone, then continued: "But after this unjust invasion and atrocities committed alone in Ducrijeka, are we seriously going to re-admit a state that has, and I know all of you knows, is notorious for their nonchalant aggression against everyone else?"
"Perhaps, by now, my Pan-Gotic brethren," Skrøder placed her hands on her desk, "like the wise words of the Essalanian king, maybe we should be sensible enough and never allow the Andrennians ever again into this organisation. No prestige- like a founding member- shall ever excuse the sheer atrocity and barbaric aggression Andrenne has proliferated. Therefore, the stance of the United Kingdom of Valland and Allia is a hard no against the readmission of Andrenne into the Pan-Gotic Union. That is all."
Skrøder bowed and sat down, awaiting for the next speaker.
Mats Odenburg stood quickly. "It is the opinion of Xentherida that we will refuse to debate Andrenne's reentry until the Duchrijeka conflict has reached a peaceful conclusion at the minimum. Ideally the war should be settled with a full Andrennian withdrawal, but we have realised that this deep into the conflict, such a withdrawal is most likely impossible. Last year saw a four-month long ceasefire break down and this year there appears to be zero attempts to resurrect such a situation. Xentherida does not believe that this regime has the interests of peace at its heart and will continue its conflict until it has gained total victory in the field of battle, unnecessarily prolonging this conflict and ending thousands more lives. For these reasons, should it come to a vote, Xentherida will be against the readmittance of Andrenne into this union."
An assemblage of black shiny boots marched on linoleum tiles. The doors leading into the Pan-Gotic Union's chamber swung open dramatically, sending a rush of air into the delegates closest to it. At the entrance stood a man in a grey military uniform sporting a long black vintage parka, rimmed with a fur hood. He threw it off from his shoulders so it could be caught by the nearest soldier to him.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am Field Marshal Samuel Kiiralnin of the Royal Andrennian Army. I am here to represent the Kingdom of Andrenne. I am sure you missed us all dearly."
He spoke loudly and boldly as he moved down the stairs. "You will find we are in breach of no articles within the constitution of the Pan-Gotic Union. There is nothing stating a suspended nation may not still have a delegation within the chambers. Of course, we will not be voting, but our current government found it prudent to send me here."
The entourage of soldiers behind got to work immediately, setting up a small Andrennian flag and name plates in the usual spot of the Andrennian delegation. Kiiralnin took his seat.
"Until a time that is deemed suitable to replace me, I will be serving as the representative of the Kingdom of Andrenne. I will assure you all that Mr. Janusson is in good health, but not currently residing within Andrenne."
He took his officer's hat off, put his hands together as if nothing was wrong, and put on a smile.
Frida Teigland looked over at Marshal Kiiralnin and smiled.
"A pleasure to have you, Field Marshal," she said before turning to delegation as a whole.
"A lot has been made here in this chamber. I've heard phrases such as 'the unjust war in Duchrijeka,' and delegates asking why Andrenne need be admitted? Let me remind the Union of some apparently inconvenient facts..."
She took a sip of water before continuing.
"As horrific as the shelling of Kosada was...the war itself was not unjustified. Duchrijekan terrorists attacked the Andrennian Parliament. And the Duchrijekan government refused any attempt on Andrenne's part to prosecute guilty parties. What was Andrenne to do? It's the Kingdom of Prydania's position that while Kosada was an indefensible act of aggression, the war in Duchrijeka is very much defensible."
She looked around the delegates before continuing.
"Given that the perpetrators of Kosada are no longer in power continued suspension of Andrenne is no longer rational. Further we must consider that certain old rivalries, on the part of the Vallish, must not be taken seriously. I would recommend Fröken Skrøder of Vallia that the PGU is not the place for her or her government to play out revenge fantasies against Andrenne."
She looked at the Vallish rep intently.
"This Union grew out of an alliance among Gotic states to help free my country from Syndicalist tyrants. Andrenne fought alongside us. Whereas Vallia sat in Gothis, indifferent. All Gotic nations have a right to be heard here, but Vallia has no right to insist Andrenne never again be admitted to these halls."
"Assembled PGU delegates, Prydania joined in Andrenne's war in Duchrijeka, to aid an ally and kin in need. We are also among the first to leave the Andrennian war effort over the shelling of Kosada. And we are the delegation that called for Andrenne's suspension from the PGU. Prydania has found itself on all sides of this conflict. We understand why Andrenne went to war, and we understand the outrage over Kosada. I should hope my government's track record on this matter is proof enough of our objectivity."
"There is much to discuss openly and honestly. But half-truths and fictions peddled here have no place in open, honest, objective debate."
Mats rolled his eyes at this Andrennian entrance. Leaning back in his chair, he spoke “It seems with this rather rude interruption we have here, the security of this hall here in Cosonia appears to be quite lacking. As the nation responsible for this, I’ll be sure to pass on some choice recommendations to tighten security to prevent any future unexpected arrivals from simply barging in accompanied by a flood of soldiers. I would like to thank the Andrennian entourage for raising awareness of this security flaw, and I would also like to commend them on their prompt ability to manufacture nameplates and little flags. We would like to further thank Andrenne for raising awareness to us that there are no articles in the PGU constitution saying that suspended members can’t observe, and we would like to immediately propose that the constitution is amended to explicitly prohibit this attempt to work around a sanction.”
He continued coldly. “As for the choice of representative, Xentherida finds it fitting that of all people they send a field marshal in to represent themselves, no doubt continuing to prove to us that Andrenne is indeed a bastion of peace and tranquility. Of course, being a suspended member means that my new colleague from Andrenne may find it quite boring to be sat here unable to provide input on resolutions here, which I’m sure must frustrate this field marshal who is no doubt used to more exciting ventures such as bombing civilians indiscriminately. On the bright side, I’m sure that Andrenne will be thrilled to be in the company of the PGU as it delivers its more choice words about the actions of the regime.”
“We thank Mr. Odenburg for their lovely comments. The tiny flag and nameplate industry in Andrenne is certainly exploding as of late. Just as those schools in Prydania did during Xentheridan air campaigns, isn’t that right Mr. Odenburg?”
The Marshal brushed dust off of the shoulder of his pristine grey Royal Army uniform.
“This regime, as I would hope it has been noted, is not a permanent one. We are acting in the best interests of the Andrennian people. They wanted us represented within the Union again. We obliged. We’re a temporary junta. When the war is at such a point in which the nation is deemed safe, the legitimate government will be restored under Prime Minister van Spaarva. We reached this agreement during the ceasefire last summer, which I will remind you was not broken by us, but rather by Dučrijeka.”
He cleared his throat. “This is not a war of extermination. It never was. Kosada was a tragedy and it’s perpetrators have long since been arrested and are awaiting prosecution. A military tribunal has been planned for this summer. We do this with full support of the Andrennian government in exile and with full support of our people. War crimes are not something we take pride in, nor do we go out of our way to partake in them. We would expect this to not be the case if Dučrijeka were the one invading us. You will find that our military police have been active in the apprehension of war criminals and prevention of further war crimes. We do not blame any allie’s for their response. Sanctions were justified. Our suspension was justified. We do not hold it against any state within this chamber, even those that despise us for the sins of our forefathers and presume we will invade them next.” He cast his eyes to the Vallian delegation for but a moment.
He ran a hand through his short black hair, streaked with gray.
“Now as for the war itself. We cannot simply up and leave as if nothing happened. We would be disrespecting the memories and lives of hundreds of victims. Dučrijeka still refuses to acknowledge their part in the attack. They had the audacity to claim it was a false flag attack. It was literally state-sponsored terrorism. Their regime is an authoritarian state under the guise of a democracy. We do not wish to annex their territory. We do not wish to erase their people or their culture. We will, upon their surrender, stop all hostilities. No other nation here can fully understand Andrenne’s position. We were left with no other options. There was no chance of diplomacy with them. Tell me— would any nation within this union want a hostile state like Dučrijeka as their neighbor? One that actively promotes terrorism in your country? That never even attempts to apologize for its horrendous actions? That makes it’s men fight simply because their leadership can’t say sorry? Can’t show even a shred of human decency? We will finish this war. We must finish this war.”
Mats yawned. "Trust the Andrennians to be the ones to make a sick joke about dead children. We acknowledged our mistake, launched an investigation into our own actions, found the root cause which was an intelligence failure, and paid compensation to the victims. If this had been an Andrennian operation, we would have bombed the school for a year, had an internal revolution about the morality of bombing schools, temporarily halted bombing schools, and then resumed bombing Prydanian schools anyway four months later for another year. Your attempts to deflect your guilt by changing the subject onto a tragedy that happened a decade ago, and even imply that they are in any way comparable to your own actions, is nothing short of reprehensible."
"Andrenne has consistently demonstrated itself to not committed to peace. After the 2021 ceasefire failed, which we do understand failed due to Duchrijekan actions, Andrenne made zero attempts to deescalate the situation but instead launched an entirely new offensive. Andrenne has demonstrated its military dominance yet have they genuinely attempted to negotiate with the Duchrijekan government? Have even we heard any attempts at negotiating? Has there been even a single attempt at peace not caused by an internal coup? Nothing. Andrenne at present controls over two thirds of Duchrijeka - an undeniable military victory. Yet they still seem to be set on a total military victory, damned at how many lives they end. If eliminating the Duchrijekan leadership has it even occurred to the Andrennian government to negotiate regime change, or hell, to launch even a single decapitation strike at the Duchrijekan government?"
"To Xentherida the continuation of this conflict beyond the battles of the lowlands has proved that Andrenne is simply attempting to assert its dominance on the international stage again. After decades of "disarmament" Andrenne finally has the chance to gain prestige and reshape the Gothis status quo by establishing itself as a military power on the continent, without a single care for the number of lives they destroy. And for what? What will happen to Duchrijeka after the conclusion of the conflict? Occupation, a puppet government? Regardless, it will result in nothing but even more poverty and neglect for the Duchrijekan people, worse than what was already established by the authoritarian Duchrijekan regime."
"The Andrennian regime has effectively used the Duchrijekan regime's initial actions as a cause for this, inflicting casualties far surpassing those of the January 4th attack - the Andrennian response has been the definition of disproportionate. Has it ever occurred to Andrenne that what they are inflicting upon Duchrijeka is paramount to the same thing? The bombing of Kosada itself should have been the end of the campaign right there and then, yet the Andrennians continued their bloodlust and thirst for revenge by slaughtering thousands more. This is beyond an eye for an eye, this is Andrenne brutally torturing and crippling Duchrijeka for an eye."
"There has been no groundwork for any surrender. No conditions stated, no demands, no negotiations, nothing at all. It appears that Andrenne is aiming for an unconditional surrender and this will clearly only happen after the total conquest and occupation of Duchrijeka. We cannot allow a nation like this to even sit among us in this hall, never mind re-join this union. A nation that spreads violence and deals death simply cannot be a part of a community that was built on the foundation of peace and cooperation."
"Andrennians fought for peace in Prydania, Herra Odenburg," Frida replied.
"Again, what would Xentherida's suggested course of action be?" she continued.
"Duchrijekan terrorists attacked Andrenne's parliament. Duchrijekan forces were the reason a cease-fire failed. Kosada was a tragedy, and I stand by my government's decision to remove our forces from the Andrennian war effort afterwards, as well as the decision to pivot them towards humanitarian assistance. A humanitarian coalition that included Hessunland, Essalanea, Norsia, and Saintonge. Unlike Xentherida Prydanian forces played a role in that conflict. Yet you're here lecturing us on the morality of it?"
"This is a complicated issue, Herra Odenburg. Duchrijeka was complicit on an attack at the heart of the Andrennian nation, but Andrennian responses crossed a line in response. They were suspended from this body- at Prydania's urging I might remind you- for it. Those responsible are no longer in power. That should be enough for re-admittance."
"Anything else is just moralistic tut-tutting over a nation responding to an act of aggression."
"You say those responsible are no longer in power, yet this is simply untrue - this new Andrennian leadership was given a ceasefire barely two weeks after it seized power. Since the collapse of that ceasefire, Andrenne has mounted another offensive. This clearly indicates to Xentherida that this new regime is also as bloodthirsty as the last. What difference does the paint job make to an assault rifle?"
"This war is more than just Kosada. This war has seen boundless, continuous tragedies of all kinds."
"Had this been Xentherida's parliament attacked? We would have manually executed a regime change, at least capturing or eliminating the Duchrijekan leadership to bring the actual criminals to justice with minimal casualties. A rather obvious choice, hence my surprise at Andrenne clearly having not even considered that. It is no secret that Duchrijekan leadership was quite unpopular prior to the invasion, with multiple insurgent groups active within the country - regime change would have possibly been welcomed. But now there is a foreign invader on Duchrijekan soil, the country has rallied around its nationalist platform, forming a cohesive national identity as a unified resistance."
"I would like to remind Prydania that regardless of this war's beginning, Duchrijekan forces are quite literally fighting for their homeland - has Prydania forgotten about the decades of Andrennian subjugation post-Fascist War? The further that one pushes into Duchrijeka, the more determined they become, lest they face a repeat of the Valkyist takeover in 1935. It should have been obvious from the start that Duchrijeka would violently resist."
"As for the safe zone? Xentherida has no interest in joining a coalition that found its origins in blood - from the Hessunland invasion and combat with Duchrijekan forces in the region to create the buffer in the first place, to the whiplash manner in which previously gung-ho nations were suddenly sobered by the prospect of mass civilian casualties initiated by their ally, and turned moralist despite themselves being so initially willing to shed blood. Xentherida instead has been focusing on its own independent aid efforts in the region, and has been accepting refugees like it does with almost every modern conflict."
"It is one thing to be pedantically moralistic, and it is another to support a regime that continues to brutally shed the blood of a neighbouring country."
"You wish to ask what difference a new paint job makes on an assault rifle?" Frida retorted.
"The answer, as always, is the truth. And the truth is neither the Andrennian civilian or military leadership responsible for Kosada is in a position of power. That's the truth ambassador. Like it or not."
Frida looked around at the assembled delegates.
"Herra Odenburg suggests that had it been Xentherida that was attacked they'd have executed a regime change and brought the responsible parties to justice. Well that is swell... though I might ask why Xentherida did not do that with Syndicalist Prydania? Or Communist New Aleman? Or Rayvostoka? Such an easy solution to so many regimes that have caused so much trouble."
She shrugged and continued.
"The reason they did not, of course, is because that is a very difficult thing to do. For any military. It requires precision and luck in even ideal circumstances. Já, Herra Odenburg. A surgical regime change would have been better...but such an operation is insanely complex and difficult and very likely would have led to open war anyway."
"Assembled PGU ambassadors. This is the problem. Our friends in Xentherida continue to moralize. It's quite easy to say 'why didn't you do this?' when you are not the one under attack and not the one assessing military capabilities and realities."
"And já, ambassador," she continued returning her attention to Mats, "I said moralize. How dare you accuse Prydania of bloodlust. We've seen more blood the last two decades then you've seen in six. Some of that blood having been spilt by Xentherida."
"We did not go into Duchrijeka thirty for blood. We went to fight alongside an ally that came under attack. That is what you've failed to acknowledge. Duchrijekans are rallying? Well I should hope the cause they rally behind is one that does not attack the governments of sovereign states. That's what happened, Herra Odenburg. Duchrijeka is not innocent, and simply insisting it be free of facing consequences for the Andrennian lives killed in that terrorist attack is naivety of the highest order."
"...Andrenne has not attempted peace negotiations because it would be utterly pointless. We've gone over the idea of it time and time again and every time we've concluded that it would only end in failure. Dučrijeka has never once acted in good faith towards Andrenne. The fact that we even got a ceasefire was a miracle. Yet it was immensely clear to us, even at the time, that Dučrijeka only bothered to negotiate because their offensive failed-- They did it for the sake of stopping an Andrennian counteroffensive. Because they knew it would result in those forces being totally lost if they did not. It was a stalling tactic. They did not do it because they wanted to head into peace negotiations. They broke the ceasefire the moment they felt it was useless to them. Never once has their leadership thought of reaching out to negotiate genuine peace. No one in their government ever attempted to remedy their internal issues, to even utter a single word of remorse. They're-- they're practically a terrorist state- and we are unable to negotiate with them. We began a new offensive after the ceasefire failed because we had no chance of re-negotiating that ceasefire. Who's to say Dučrijeka wouldn't have simply broken it again anyways?"
Kiiralnin glanced to Frida. "...As Madam Teigland has pointed out, a decapitation strike is not as simple as you would make it out to be. Have we considered it? Yes. The fine details are currently classified but we quickly realized that it would almost certainly end in failure and so we discarded the idea. A slow and methodical campaign is required, because Dučrijeka's geography does not allow for anything else."
He put his fingers to his scraggly grey beard. "...Mr. Odenburg, do you know where Brzevoda is? Do you know the geography of the region? It is surrounded by highlands, except to the east. Any offensives trying to directly get to the capital are going to be very slow and cause far more casualties then are acceptable. That is why we did not immediately cross the border and strike at their capital- To do so would be utterly foolish. We'd be bogged down fighting in the highlands near immediately and would likely see our forces encircled and ambushed frequently by the smaller and more mobile Dučrijekan forces. You may say that we could simply send in a special operations team via helicopter. You'd technically be correct. We certainly could. We could also watch that special operations team get shot down by anti-air defenses before they even reach it. Or see them trapped fighting in the streets. You can talk as much as you'd like, but you're not a military officer and you do not understand the planning required for such an operation, nor the immense difficulties it would face."
"Furthermore, I don't know if you truly understand the nuances of this conflict. There is a nationalist platform, yes, but as you said yourself- the government was immensely unpopular. The majority of forces we fight are not coming from a politically unified Dučrijeka. They're coming from a nation that's been cowed by an authoritarian ruler. Their propaganda must be working if you truly believe that they've all rallied around this cause, since the pro-Andrennian militias we've encountered would certainly say otherwise."
"Lastly- You stated that Xentherida has no interest in joining a coalition founded in blood. Yet they're in this union, are they not? Yes, the Pan-Gotic Union was founded on cooperation. Cooperation against Syndicalist Prydania, that is, and assisting the FRE in their war. Andrenne, Goyanes, and Kanada were co-belligerents against the Syndicalists. Xentherida was conducting air operations over the region. Everything the Pan-Gotic Union has done, it has done because those four nations got involved in a foreign war. If Xentherida really didn't want to join a coalition founded in blood, then it wouldn't have helped found this very union."
"If the verbal sparring is quite done I will ask again, will Andrenne accept the Svattenstad and Saintes accords and pledge to never commit an atrocity like Kosada again?
Andrenne was surely justified in the first instance of war, the attack on Mitta was cowardly and shameful. But what was done in response was no less dishonorable and wicked and it stained the honour of all who fought alongside Andrenne.
We in Essalanea see no reason Andrenne should not be allowed to make amends and rejoin this union. However why should Andrenne be exempt from the same rules of conduct that every member state in this organisation have agreed to abide by. We put it to the Andrennian government thus, prove you are better then those you deposed, sign the accords and we can put this sad chapter to some form of rest"
Mats sighed. "Signing the Conventions will hardly undo the lives lost and stop the fighting. And they would take a while to actually fully implement. But maybe now that the verbal sparring is done, this should probably come to a vote to finally settle this matter; meanwhile, I have begun drafting a resolution to prevent this unexpected arrival from happening in future."