As Al-Jazeera Reports from Liberland, a Progress Report from President Vit Jedlicka

By 22 August 2017

A crazy publicity stunt, or a nascent state in the making? As Al Jazeera reports from the self-proclaimed Free State of Liberland, TCN catches up with President Vit Jedlicka on August 21, 2017, to find some subtle changes in his road to statehood. 

It sounds like something like a plot from an Evelyn Waugh novel in a remote part of Africa at the height of the colonial era.

A Czech politician, his girlfriend and a good friend turn up on a marshy piece of land on the left bank of the Danube, with Croatia to the left and Serbia to the right, and then plants a flag in the ground and claims a 7km2 territory as the Free State of Liberland, with a motto of Live and Let Live. The bizarre act made global headlines and aroused the imagination of hundreds of thousands, with approximately half a million people applying for citizenship in the new self-proclaimed republic.


The land was claimed under a law called Terra Nullius, by which if a piece of land is unclaimed by any state, the first person to plant his flag can claim it as his own. President Vit Jedlicka had been looking to form his own state for some time, and the unlikely discovery that there was unclaimed territory on the banks of an international waterway between Croatia and Serbia lies in the fact that the Danube today flows a different route than it did in the 19th century, from which time the cadastral maps of the region are still used today for land ownership. After the breakup of former Yugoslavia, Serbia laid claim to everything to the right of the modern Danube path, but Croatia hankered for those 19th Century borders, as there was more land on the right of today's Danube, leaving a 7km2 unclaimed by either country.


Jedlicka seized the moment, and the Croatian authorities took a dim view. Not only did they arrest and briefly detain the Czech idealist on more than one occasion, they also started patrolling the Danube with police boats to prevent anyone trying to go from an international waterway to a territory did not claim. The height of absurdity, and something not out of place in a Waugh novel. Even more bizarrely, at the height of the migrant crisis, when some 650,000 migrants and refugees entered Croatia, many without papers, the Croatian authorities refused entry to an EU citizen with valid passport, as Jedlicka was prevented from coming to Slavonia for a freedom conference on the occasion of the first anniversary of his self-proclaimed state. It was a fascinating conference, and one which I attended and documented in the village of Lug, near Osijek. Read A Weekend in Alice in LiberWonderland here.

Freedom for Liberland! from MEL Films on Vimeo.

If you have the time, there is an excellent documentary on that weekend and the Liberland issue (above).

Far from going away, the Liberland movement is getting stronger by the day more than two years later, and the international media is giving the story plenty of airtime, with Al-Jazeera the latest to visit.

And not only have the absurd Croatian police patrols on the Danube now stopped, but it appears that Liberlanders are able to freely visit their new homeland.

I caught up with President Jedlicka yesterday to find out how things are going.

1. What is the situation with access to Liberland now - are the Croatian boat patrols still here - is it easy to get to it from the Danube?

Apparently my message to the Croatian parliament was heard and all boats and policeman previously present on Liberland Serbian borders are now gone. I have just returned from Liberland after we spent a night there. I believe that it is win-win situation for Croatia and Liberland both politically and economically, and I really appreciate Croatia's new position.


2. Explain the houseboat policy and how it is going?

As there is no agreement with Croatia on opening borders between our two countries yet, the only possible access is through Danube river which is luckily international waterway. Starting settlement with houseboats is the first logical step and it also helps us to avoid problems when the water level of Danube rises. A combination of solar power plant on the roofs of houseboats and hydrogen cells gives us complete independence.

3. Any progress on the diplomatic front?

Our support in Croatia and Serbia is constantly improving which is most important. Apart from that, I just came from United States where we have a great team of 12 honorary consulates. We are building up firm support for Liberland both in Congress and in the Senate. During my last visit, I had the honor to speak in front of ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government and free markets. I am coming to USA soon, as I was invited to speak in front of Congress. Apart from that, I just received an invitation to meet presidents of two independent countries one in the Caribbean and one in Africa, so there is a lot of travelling ahead.


4. Is there anything interesting happening before the end of the summer holidays in Liberland? What should visitors keep an eye on?

Next weekend there is a nice educational festival http://liberation.today organized by supporters of Liberland in the nearby city of Osijek. I believe it will be a great experience for anybody visiting. In Liberland we have a constant stream of visitors and five boats ready to visit Liberland. We ask visitors not to come to Liberland through the Croatian side as they might get in trouble with Croatia border police.