It’s been over a year since Vít Jedlička first tried his hand at nation building. The libertarian activist and Czech politician jokingly proposed creating a new freedom loving nation in Europe last April. Jokingly that is, until tens of thousands of people requested citizenship. As of this writing over 400,000 people have signed up to his project (more than his hypothetical nation could even support).
So what’s so appealing about this nation, which Jedlička has dubbed “Liberland?” Other than the fact that taxes would be voluntary, and the state would have a minimalist, Swiss style government, there is some plausibility to this idea. The territory that he wants to annex exists in a state of ‘terra nullis.’ In other words, this is no man’s land. No other nation has sovereignty over it. It’s three square miles squashed between Serbia and Croatia. In a sense it is disputed territory, but neither country is willing to lay claim to it for fear of reigniting old political tensions.
Legally speaking, terra nullis can be claimed by anyone, which is what Jedlička has tried to do, but as you might expect the governments surrounding Liberland have no interest in letting a libertarian upstart pop up along their borders. Over the past year the Croatian police have repeatedly prevented Jedlička and his supporters from entering the area, but their fight isn’t over yet. Jedlička has a new plan to defy the authorities and take control of the land his movement has claimed, which he recently shared with The Independent.
While he could not access what he sees as his own land, Mr Jedlička was very busy, meeting sympathetic politicians around the world and setting up a website where people fed up with their own governments could register their interest in the venture – and donate to the cause.
“We kind of appreciate what Croatia is doing at this stage, which is simply protecting our border from others who would like this territory as well.”
That’s all about to change, however. This weekend Mr Liberland and his volunteer ministers held a conference to discuss Liberland’s future at a Croatian hotel just 5km from the border.
And in the summer, he plans to stage a “state celebration” in a field next to the disputed territory which, if all goes to plan, could snowball into something much more.
“It’s going to be a big media event,” he says. “We would like to invite 5,000 people, with the best artists who support Liberland [attending], and we already have two or three major festival organisers in the area helping us.
“That could be the time when we actually take over control of this territory,” he says, with a clear sense of anticipation. “We are not pushing for it yet, but there is no way you can stop 5,000 people taking over control of Liberland.”
That may sound like the perfect recipe for a frightening government crackdown on thousands of people, but it’s hard to say what will happen. Croatia doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a brutal police state. How far would they really go to stop this? Jedlička makes the case that based on how European nations have been dealing with the migrant crisis, Croatia and Serbia won’t put up much of a fight.
Asked if he is essentially advocating a hostile takeover, Mr Jedlicka insists it would be better for Croatia to give the festival-goers “a green light” for the move.
But he adds: “We are confident, we will make it across the border. Take a look at how refugees are crossing borders so easily now. There is nothing that will stop 5,000 people from crossing the border.”
What do you think? Is the Croatian government going to stamp out this crazy dream, or does Liberland have a fighting chance?
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
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