Corkora, Munsteran – Eighteen of the former territories of the long disestablished Papal States of Sanctaria are to form a new political association in order to “deepen historical ties” and “develop cultural, societal, and political commonalities”. The Consortium of Independent Nations was announced today in Corkora by Munsterani First Minister Bethany Thompson, flanked by representatives of the seventeen other countries forming this new organisation.
The Consortium is apparently a brainchild of former Sanctarian Chancellor Charlene Hendry, who allegedly spent a considerable amount of time and effort on back-channel negotiations with the former colonies of the Papal States convincing them to formalise what had become a scattering of loose bilateral agreements between various countries. Though the plan did not come to fruition during her tenure in office, and it seems the name of the organisation was suggested by Queen Sophie I of Mount Solace, today’s Corkora Declaration establishing the “voluntary political association” did see many of her former peers expressing thanks to her for the momentum.
Sanctarian Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Kathryn Stewart, who was representing the Divine Federation at the Corkora Declaration ceremony said that the Consortium would be the “next step” in relations between the former constituent nations and territories of the Papal States. “Relations between Sanctaria and nations who were coerced, by war or threats of war, into joining the Papal States have not always historically been warm, but over the past number of decades, successive governments have worked hard to make amends”, Stewart said. “The creation of the Consortium where all nations are equal, with the same vote, free to make decisions democratically and without duress is the next step for all of our countries with shared values and histories”.
Secretary Stewart also announced on behalf of the Sanctarian government that St. George’s Palace, the former seat of the national parliament, would be offered to the Consortium to house not only its administrative headquarters, but also its semi-annual Consortium Governmental Conference. These Conference meetings will see heads of government from across the Consortium meet in the former chamber of the House of Deputies – likely to be refurbished – and make collective decisions for the Consortium in the spheres of cultural cooperation, breaking down financial barriers, and finding common ground on social and political topics.
According to First Minister Thompson, the inaugural Consortium Governmental Conference will take place from 27 September to 29 September this year, and will see the body adopt a charter for its governance and elect a Secretary-General to lead the organisation and be the public voice and spearhead for the policies and agenda it adopts. “This is an exciting time for citizens in the nations that are forming the Consortium – though early days, the possibilities in terms of travel, living, and trade between the member nations will be absolutely endless.”
The Consortium’s membership is currently open to nations who formed a part of the Papal States of Sanctaria, which was officially dissolved in 1974. Aside from the eighteen nations that formed the Consortium today, three more nations are eligible under this criteria. However according to Secretary Stewart “a number of nations here, and I think Sanctaria could be counted among them, believe that in the future a different set of criteria could be established for nations without historical ties to the Papal States that want to avail of the opportunities the Consortium will provide. It’s definitely something a number of us are open to.”
It is understood that a number of institutions will be set up under the parentage of the Consortium including a Secretariat for the body, as well as a development foundation, and potentially a sporting federation to organise a regular multi-sport event for athletes in the Consortium’s member states to participate in. “A lot of ideas are on the table, it’s very exciting”, was the verdict of Patricia Keating, Lord Mayor of Galway and co-head of government of Galway and Athlone.
The Consortium is to be funded by contributions from the member states by virtue of population and GDP; the Divine Federation of Sanctaria is likely to be the biggest contributor by far, but Secretary Stewart says this will not buy them any additional influence. “Sanctaria has done well, quite frankly historically off the backs of many of the countries in this Consortium. If we have a bigger share to pay, then that’s only fair and right.”
Talk amongst representatives at the signing of the Corkora Declaration already turned to who would be the first Secretary-General of the Consortium, with former Chancellor Hendry’s name mentioned by quite a number of heads of government. It remains to be seen whether the running of what could be called her brainchild would be enough to tempt the former politician out of her retirement less than a year after she entered it.
Representatives at the announcement today laughed away suggestions by some reporters that the Consortium could lead to a sort of federation or revival of the Papal States, albeit in a secular and more democratic manner. However, many did suggest that the Consortium would and will provide a vehicle or framework for a multitude of multilateral agreements or treaties, particularly in trade and commerce, but so long as everyone consented, nothing prohibited multilateral treaties on political or governance issues either. For now, though, the eighteen nations represented at the gathering today seem to be happy they’re all on speaking terms again.
KIM TOWERS, Foreign Editor