I think that Gorde has outlined an excellent suggestion here !
For my part, I would suggest keeping it simple. I think the mechanics should be simple; and the effects should be straightforward. In other words I would suggest that there be just three opening lines: one that is clearly mildly hostile, one that is clearly mildly friendly, and one that is purely nuetral.
The hostile one would imply hostility, including strength and independence. It would have the effect of initiating the relationship with this particular opponent as being slightly hostile. In addition, it would resonate (to a lesser extent) with the two classes of AI opponents, the kingdoms, and the empires; such that if the opponent is a kingdom, other kingdoms would feel more hostile (and empires more friendly) ... and vice versa, if the opponent is an empire. The friendly response would imply friendliness, inviting trade, treaties, and cooperation. It would have the effect of initiating the relationship with this particular opponent as being slightly friendly. In addition, it would resonate (to a lesser extent) with the two classes of AI opponents, much like the case with the mildly hostile response ...
The nuetral response would be truly nuetral. It would have no effect upon the initial relationship with this particular opponent ... or, for that matter, with the other members of the two classes of AI opponents. Essentially, it would cede the initial definition of the relationship, to the opponent.
Gorde has suggested that these opening lines should serve as tiny boosts or hits in the diplomatic relationship. I would suggest "small" rather that "tiny"; but to avoid (as Gorde notes) the potential for abuse, I would suggest that this trio of opening greetings (opening postions) only be available once (the very first time) that you encounter a particular opponent. On all succeeding occasions, this trio of greetings should NOT be available. Instead, only the regular repetoire of diplomatic statements should be available.
Of course, if Stardock wants to go to the trouble and effort of making this opening diplomatic gambit more complex, and/or more ambiguous, that could be done too. BUT my real point is: that even this relatively simple upgrade of the opening diplomatic options/exchange, would make for a huge improvement in this aspect of the game, IMHO.