Liberland at 4: US Congressman, British MEP, Bitcoin's Roger Ver Attending

By 11 April 2019

April 10, 2019 - It is almost 4 years since Czech national Vit Jedlicka planted a flag in some marshy land near the Danube and proclaimed the Free State of Liberland.

It is one of my all-time favourite stories of my time in the Balkans, and a story which shows no sign of going away. 

Sunday will mark the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the Free State of Liberland on a 7km2 piece of land on the Danube between Croatia and Serbia. 

Incredibly, after so much fighting over land in the region, neither side had claimed this land as theirs for some 24 years since the breakup of former Yugoslavia. Jedlicka noticed, came with his girlfriend and another friend, planted his flag, and proclaimed his new country under a law called Terra Nullius, whereby the first person to lay claim to unclaimed sovereign land has rights to it. 

The reason why neither side had claimed the waterfront plot was simple. When discussing borders, Serbia declared it wanted everything to the east of the Danube and had no interest in anything to the west. Croatia, by contrast, wanted to stick to the catastar borders of the 19th century map when the Danube flowed differently. As there was more land on the Serbian side, they laid claim to that, meaning they did not take up any claim on what was soon to become Jedlicka's Liberland. 

The story went global, as Jedicka announced his intention of creating a libertarian state with voluntary taxation, encouraging people to apply for citizenship. More than half a million did so. 

Not everyone was thrilled with the new arrival, Croatia in particular, which arrested Jedlicka and imprisoned him overnight as he attempted to visit his new country. His crime was to have left Croatia illegally, as there was no border crossing. Jedlicka's response was to thank his captors for confirming that there was a border, as well as praising their willingness to defend Liberland's borders to prevent undesirables from entering. 

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of the founding of the State, which will be celebrated on the Serbian side in nearby Sombor, before a fleet of Liberland boats will sail to the shores of their country. Croatia police patrol boats are expected to prevent anyone landing, as in previous years. 

I was present at the first anniversary in Lug, a small village north of Osijek, a rather surreal event which I summarised in A Weekend in Alice in LiberWonderland. Last year's anniversary was a much more polished affair at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi Sad. Liberland had become a darling of the cryptocurrency world, just one of its many admirers, and I don't think I have ever been in a room with so much money in the bank accounts of the attendees. Some $13 billion had been pledged for the construction of Liberland, should it manage to come to agreements with its neighbours. 

One of the most intriguing developments of this year for the Liberland story is EU President Juncker's response to the question from MEP Bill Etheridge on whether or not Juncker regarded the territory where Liberland is as being in the EU or not. Juncker's response that this question 'required further clarification.' 

MEP Etheridge will be one of the keynote speakers in Sombor at this year's event. And he will not be the only prominent international politician on show, as Congressman Tom Garrett will also be speaking. 

The cryptocurrency world will also be well-represented, with Liberland citizen Roger Ver of Bitcoin.com also due. You can learn more about the Liberland 4th anniversary programme here.

As they say in Liberland, Live and Let Live - check out the documentary made of the first year anniversary.

Freedom for Liberland! from MEL Films on Vimeo.

Tagged under: liberland