Ambassador Karamanlis nodded toward Prince Sebastien and the Antanaresian delegation. “I thank Your Highness for your words of support,” the ambassador began. “Please allow me to clarify some points of the Sultanate’s proposal so as to assure Your Highness and the people of Antanares that we are in no way advocating the construction of ghettos for the disadvantaged. On the contrary, our proposal today is intended to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the number of such ghettos that have already sprung up in Morea as a result of our current inefficiency, and provide a firm foundation for community growth and national assimilation.
“This proposal is intended to develop real and well-established towns and cities specifically for the use of our refugee populations,” Karamanlis elaborated. “It is meant to request the use of international resources in order to put an end to ‘shanty town’-like refugee camps that, despite the Sultanate’s efforts, are all too common in Morea today. Our intention is to improve the lot of our refugees, either within or outside of our borders, with the help of OMNI as a whole. And as Your Highness points out, as does Your Excellency,” Karamanlis added, nodding toward President Garagen as well, “such a project aids those living in many OMNI nations, not just our own. While I do not doubt that the refugees of Antanares and New-Zealand are luckier than most in the care they receive from their hosts, they remain nonetheless a people apart, supported by their neighbors, and largely unable to contribute to their own and the national welfare. Her Majesty the Sultana hopes that, with your aid, OMNI as a whole can accomplish what the Sultanate alone could not: turning these refugees into productive, permanent citizens and subjects, content in their new homes.”
The ambassador shook his head. “To be sure, Her Majesty has selfish reasons for her proposal, as did His Majesty Sultan Ioannis when he first opened the borders of Morea to those fleeing danger elsewhere. Manpower is a resource, and a strong government utilizes it whenever it can. That is not to say that the Sultanate proposes to make slaves of those who have come to us in desperation. The opposite, in fact: We intend to make homes for them, and jobs, and all the means of self-support. We intend to construct permanent towns and cities that will become strongholds of production, boasting a motivated workforce and an educated younger generation. We intend to profit only from the profits of our new residents, not at their expense. And if the military profits most of all from the industries that we bring to these new cities and towns in their opening stages, our nations are made stronger for it while our people are no less productive and no more unhappy.”
Karamanlis turned his attention to President Garagen. “As I have said, of course, construction of these new colonies would require a close cooperation with the private sector, or at least those elements of it whose expansion can provide employment for these refugees and supplies for our national militaries. And while it is not Her Anointed Majesty’s intention to sell the rights of these towns’ physical construction to private individuals and companies, she does not intend for this proposal to outright prevent it, either. I believe that my clarifications have demonstrated the difficulty of expecting the private sector to govern these colonies to any great extent, however, as they are intended from the first to be permanent additions to the host nation of no less stature than any other town or city. That said, those employers who are established in these places in their infancy can be expected to wield greater influence among their workers than in other communities with more varied economic opportunities. I do not believe we should begrudge them this influence, as long as it serves the national interest—although,” the ambassador added with another glance toward the Antanaresian delegation, “our governments should not hesitate to interfere in matters if private employers take advantage of their employment monopolies to the detriment of their refugee employees. Furthermore, our proposal assumes that one important employer available to these newly-settled refugees is the military itself, in the form of recruitment. The Sultanate, at least, does not intend to turn its military over to private economic interests at present.” It was enough, Karamanlis thought privately, that the Sultanate’s military was third- or fourth-best in its own borders, outstripped by Tarajani, Antanaresian, and Montferrati visitors whose equipment and training was far better than that provided at home. It did not need to compete with private military contractors at home or abroad as well.
Ambassador Karamanlis paused as he shifted his attention away from the Morean proposal. “As far as the Antanaresian proposal of closer military and economic cooperation is concerned, the Sultanate absolutely supports every effort that will allow for greater coordination in the face of any worldwide threat to OMNI or any of its members. The Sultanate believes that some kind of international command structure is necessary to effectively coordinate the various national elements currently standing guard against foreign aggression, or else our different armed forces will stumble over one another in confusion if they are unleashed against a common foe. Furthermore, if intelligence obtained by one nation is not effectively shared among its allies and friends, each nation will inevitably develop different strategies that will interfere with and undermine one another. The Sultanate fully supports any measure that will minimize these kinds of wasteful and deadly mistakes.” Karamanlis once again turned his attention from Prince Sebastien to President Garagen. “It likewise desires closer economic cooperation among our nations, as Your Excellency proposes. While perhaps it is too much to suggest that we should entirely eliminate all barriers to free trade and free movement from nation to nation within OMNI, the Sultanate has already established one of the most porous borders in Esamir in terms of the movement of peoples into our nation, and we are not about to close those borders to anyone who desires to live in productive peace among the Achaian people. We would like to evaluate the situation and determine whether or not the benefits of investment from foreign firms within Morea will help to stem any flow of Achaian labor out of our nation toward nations with better economic prospects at present. In principle, however, closer economic ties with our neighbors in OMNI are always to be welcomed, and I tentatively support Your Excellency’s proposal with the caveat that we support the incremental lowering of these barriers to free movement and free trade while further study is conducted to determine the impacts on individual national economies in the long term.” Quite simply, as everyone in the room knew even if Karamanlis wasn’t going to admit it aloud, Morean companies couldn’t compete on an equal footing with economic giants like Chrysler, while allowing the Sultanate’s subjects to emigrate without acquiring dispensation from the government first was likely to encourage Achaian moderates—and the majority of the disenchanted refugees—to flee the Sultanate in droves, leaving behind a homogeneous population of ultra-conservative theocratic supporters whose constant calls for Bishop Akakios’s return and rehabilitation were already an embarrassment for Sultana Aikaterini’s government, and a threat to the legitimacy of the Sultana herself. Aikaterini needed moderates and foreign refugees to stay in Morea as a counterweight to places like Mystras. Agreeing to the unregulated movement of peoples across borders, out of as well as into the country, would be a disaster for Aikaterini and a blow to any attempts to modernize the Sultanate’s political and social systems.