By Gudrun, European Bureau Chief for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE; VIENNA; ISTANBUL – Caliphs and chancellors might soon be squaring off with Russia’s tsar if Queen Anna has her way, and Arendelle successfully courts Austria and the Ottomans.
Last week, representatives of Kristoff’s trading company arrived in the Austrian and Ottoman Empires within days of each other. Their objective is to negotiate a series of deals that will attract reciprocal trade benefits for Arendelle from both nations. Kristoff hopes to leverage Austrian and Turkish support against Russia’s encroachments into Central and Northern Europe.
In a coordinated and carefully timed move, Bjorgman executives met with Chancellor Klemens von Metternich of Austria and Tileke, leader of the fearsome Mansure Army of the Ottoman sultan. The Arendellian delegation to Austria is led by Bjorgman director Johann Folkestad, while the trade mission to the Ottomans is led by fellow director Linbar Salberg.
While the Princely House claims to be operating as a private company, there’s little doubt among foreign observers that Kristoff sent his supercargoes at Anna’s direct request. The queen is heavily reliant on the two main men in her life – Kristoff himself and General Mattias, commander of Arendelle’s military – to outfox Russia’s Princess Katina Romanov.
Klemens von Metternich, the powerful former chief diplomat of the Austrians, gave Kristoff’s representative a warm welcome. At an evening reception at the Hofburg, which has been the ancient seat of the Austrian government since the Middle Ages, Metternich said that Austria’s interests were to check Russian ambitions westward and ensure his country’s primacy in Europe. The key question was, as Anna predicted, Turkey.
“Arendelle can support us from the north while we buttress Queen Anna from the south – together, we can ensure that the Russians don’t bring about the collapse of the Ottomans and dominate Asia Minor,” proclaimed Metternich. “If Russia manages to supplant the sultan in that region, we shall see tsarist dominance like never before.”
Metternich also wanted to ensure that the old order of aristocratic autocracy is preserved despite rapidly advancing technologies, a rising new social echelon of mercantile middle classes, and revolutions springing up across the continents. His perspective obviously jarred with Anna’s own political vision, who despite her despotic powers (in Arendelle, the monarch is also the executive) is far more egalitarian in her mindset. Arendelle’s queen has built on years of constitutional reform ever since her grandfather, Runeard, gave greater legislative powers to the Great Assembly. Nevertheless, Metternich and Anna will want to put aside their considerable differences to explore routes to containing Katina.
Meanwhile, in Constantinople, Pasha Tileke welcomed the Arendellians and introduced Bjorgman’s emissary to the caliph, Abdulmejid I. There’s little known about the Tileke, although it’s rare for women to be anywhere near formal power in the Ottoman tradition, let alone be given the reins of the Turkish heritage. “I’ve never met such a young lady of strength and fiery loyalty to the Islamic Sufi faith. Queen Anna would be impressed,” said Linbar Salberg in a statement to foreign correspondents stationed by the Bosphorus.
Abdulmejid I not only hopes to revitalize Ottoman economic prospects through the considerable Arendellian demand for Mediterranean products, but also to ally with the Western European powers of Britain and France to counter Russia. This puts Arendelle in a timely position to also seek common ground with this ancient but tottering empire.
Yet there’s plenty of strategic vitality and resources at the sultanate. For the past several years, beginning in 1839, Abdulmejid I instituted a wholesale reform of the entire Ottoman administration. Dubbed the Tanzimat by Ottomans and foreign observers alike, Abdulmejid I’s initiative aims to modernize the Turkish state, from mobilizing a new standing army to introducing paper banknotes. Queen Anna issued a public statement yesterday in an overture of friendly diplomacy: “I commend His Imperial Majesty’s reforms, which remind me of my own in my kingdom.”
Now that Kristoff is following up with potentially large economic incentives through exports of figs, olive oil, and other Ottoman supplies, as well as importing quality Arendellian ice, berries, herbs, and more, Anna is confident that she and her allies, especially Colisa and Vesterland, are moving into an ideal position against Katina. Nevertheless, Russia’s power remains asymmetric to Arendelle’s, and the Romanov heir will surely not hesitate to move pieces of her own in response to Anna’s challenge.