Sanddorn's state visits IV - Izaakia

It’s the evening of the 31 July 2022. Gianlucian chancellor Sanddorn is once again seated in the government plane and on her way to an important meet-up, but this time around, this can not be considered a friendly visit. On the contrary: She made her way to the United States of Izaakia, a country with which Gianatla has one of the highest tensions imaginable. Tensions that put those of the Gianlucian and Austral Empire during the colonial era or those between Gianatla and Ryccia or the VPRB into the shadows.
The only positive thing about that situation is, that she did not need to prepare much of an agenda for the meeting, because what is there currently much to talk about, where they could agree with each other? She knew, that the USI was annoyed of Gianatla at best or did not have any respect for the country at worst. This was shown clearly in interviews of Dr. Stella Blanc or in the way, the former Izaakian foreign minister Popadomalus was talking to her Gianlucian counterpart Strunk a few months ago. That the Gianlucian state has put an embargo onto the USI in order to try to push them to at least sign the TPNW, which in turn led to Gianlucian companies being restricted access to Izaakian markets and the Gianlucian economic output decreasing, while those of its neighbours Eflad and Besern were constantly increasing, has not made the situation any better.

“A tiger against a shark - I wonder, how such a match-up would go out in real life, if it would ever happen”, Marja thought to herself. If she followed suit with her plan, then the shark would win big time, because she made herself no illusions, Gianatla could demand anything. She doesn’t want to bow down to a power, that seemingly sees itself above everyone else, but at the same time an improvement of the relationship between the two countries is more than needed. She wanted to help the Gianlucian economy, have a strong partner at the WF for climate action legislation and she didn’t want to continue Gianatla’s isolation from its direct neighbours too much, who also have ambivalent, yet much better relations with the USI.

She reclined her seat and was brought a blanket. A small sigh later she tried to fall asleep, succeeding to do so after what must’ve been an hour. In the early morning of the 1 August 2022, Reunification Day in the USI, she landed in La Citadelle, La Montagne or Montacia, as the Izaakians like to call it.

President Blanc wakes up early on the 1st of August at her Official Montacian residence 57 Mount Pleasant Street, in the centre of La Citadelle. She got dressed for a run and wandered out to the bedroom balcony of the townhouse, and looked down at the ancient cobbled streets of La Citadelle in the early dawn and smiled. She went down to the front door, and went for a run through the historic centre, alone and unguarded. The morning was warm and pleasant, and this was always her favourite time of day in Montacia, before people woke up and the streets were still sleepy. She was pleased to see that all the streets had been fully prepared for the days events, and saw the occasional event organiser moving barriers, and setting up stalls. She went down a side street, and saw some people cleaning a wall, as she was jogging past she could see the the remnants of the words “Izaakia Out”. She was starting to wonder if she was entirely wise to go without security, even though the streets were safe, and most Montacians are pleased with reunification, there are some extreme elements in opposition, so she headed back from her run earlier than expected.

She showered and dressed before making her way to her convoy. She was more used to a larger SUV back in Izaakia, however in the narrow ancient streets of central La Citadelle which were built millennia before cars existed only small hatchbacks were really suitable to navigate the side streets. They made good progress through city because of the early hour, and the fact that many roads were closed down to other traffic with the events and parades that were planned for the day.

As La Citadelle is a city in the mountainous regions, the airport is quite a distance from the Montacian capital on top of a foothill to the west, so it took 45 minutes to reach their destination, 45 minutes which President Blanc was finding tedious. She was wondering why on earth Gianaltan Chancellor Sanddorn insisted on visiting Izaakia on unification day, an otherwise busy day of events for The President and an event that was celebrating the end of an era that began with Gianaltan occupation of Montacia.

She arrived at the airport, and exited the car on the airstrip, seeing the Izaakian and Gianaltan flags displayed prominently on the buildings, and besides a red carpet. As she looked at the Gianaltan flag cracking against its pole in the wind, she mumbled to herself “The battered old mange moggie has come to ask the shark for some fish”.

As chancellor Sanddorn disembarked from her plane, President Blanc smiled and approached the bottom of the steps to greet the chancellor, saying “Welcome Chancellor Sanddorn, to these United States of Izaakia, I’m afraid we have a long and busy day ahead of us, so I hope you’ve slept well on your flight?, and most importantly, have you had breakfast? I have made some arrangements for us to have a chat over breakfast in a rather spectacular location.”

Why Reunification Day? Well, symbolism does play a role for sure. The chancellor hoped for the talks to be more at ease, if she visited a celebration, which Izaakians generally took seriously and had a positive outlook for. Also Gianatla was actually one of the first major countries completely accepting the referendum results, once a referendum was conducted, for the so-called reunification of La Montagne, Brödmark and Keylian Izaakia. The visit at Reunification Day could have had the effect to remind the President about that fact. Of course visiting a Reunification Day parade as Gianlucian head of government also has its potential traps. Izaakian media or politics could easily make up situations, that would lead to disgracing the chancellor in front of thousands of foreign citizens, which would also have an effect at home, but overall Marja was thinking, today there would be more to win of the meeting than to lose from it.

The morning sun was blinding the Chancellor, so she had to cover her face with her right hand, but as soon as she was at the bottom of the stairs, the President was standing conveniently enough in the sun’s way, that she could stop doing that. She was relieved to find out, President Blanc herself would greet her. Her advisors were preparing her for a minor diplomatic affront of the USI only sending an envoy of the foreign ministry, maybe the foreign minister at most, but that fortunately didn’t happen.

“Mrs. President”, she gave a slight nod. “Thanks for welcoming me here. The flight was pleasant and I indeed got a couple hours of sleep, thanks for asking. Let’s hope for a good day, the weather doesn’t seem to be against us at least”, she started off with a positive tone. “May I ask, what spectacular location you’ve been choosing out? I’m sure quite a few places around here, where the mountains meet the sea, could be spectacular.”

“Of course, we shall be heading to the Pinnacle, it’s a tall steep sided rock formation around 200m high in the mountains that overlook La Citadelle, from there you can see the whole city in the valley and above you can see the snow capped mountains towering above, it’s quite spectacular. It’s inaccessible on foot or by car, but there is a ski lift and a world class restaurant at the summit. They don’t usually open until lunchtime, so we should have the place to ourselves for a discussion.”

She directs chancellor Sanddorn towards her car.

”Its a 20 minute drive, I’m afraid it’s not the usual large SUV, luxury car or limousine, it’s a Volksmobil Karpool, as I’m sure you’re aware, we’ve added a few bits for light security, but this is the USI you’ll be fine. We usually buy government vehicles from Izaakian manufacturers, but none of them make a car that’s compact enough to navigate the narrow streets of the old city. As you can imagine it wasn’t built for cars. I do wonder if we will be able to replace them with new Volksmobils when they come to the end of their service life.”

“I’m sure our manufacturers can strike a deal with you”, Sanddorn told Blanc cheekily. “The market will regulate itself”, she added with light sarcasm, quoting a typical world view of many liberals worldwide, that she can only partially share. When both women were in the car and driving to the ski lift, Marja was trying to continue the light small talk from before, even if that isn’t something, which is part of the Gianlucian DNA.

“From what I can gather from Pacipedia and the media, you are living quite an extraordinary and exciting life albeit or maybe even because you are managing a vast nation as the USi is. Outside of Izaakia at least, this sometimes sparks controversy in the common boulevard press, but let’s not think about it for a moment. They are already getting on our nerves enough, I’m sure you’d agree. Yet I ask myself, how do you find the time and energy for hobbies like going shooting regularly or some sports here and there? Do you also go skiing around here by the way?”

She knew, the questions might be also too many at once, but at least this would be an opportunity to learn more about who is behind that persona “Stella Blanc” and it’d also bridge the time until they reached the restaurant, where they would talk business while hopefully eating something delighting for their palates.

“I’m not sure you should believe everything you read on pacipedia, but you’re quite right, I do have quite and active lifestyle, I don’t know if you feel the same, but I’ve always found it hard to slow down. I can maybe do 5 minutes sitting still doing nothing without going insane, and I’ve found that worse since becoming President, the more you speed up the harder it is to slow down, not many people seem to understand that. How about yourself, what do you do in your spare time?”

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