Free Republic of Liberland
Motto: To live and let live
Location of Liberland
|Government||Provisional government chaired by the President|
|Vít Jedlička (founder)|
• Vice President
|Pierre Luis Boitel|
• Vice President
• Secretary of State
• Minister of Finance
• Minister of Foreign Affairs
• Minister of Interior
|13 April 2015|
|7 km2 (2.7 sq mi)|
Liberland, officially called the Free Republic of Liberland, is a sovereign state that started on an unclaimed piece of land on the western part of the Danube River between Croatia and Serbia. Liberland was founded on 13 April 2015 by Czech libertarian activist Vít Jedlička.
The official Liberland website says the nation was created on no-man's land (terra nullius) that emerged because Croatia and Serbia have not been able to agree on their borders for over 25 years. This border dispute includes some areas to the east of the Danube which are claimed by both Serbia and Croatia. Croatia considers some areas on the west side of the river, including Liberland, to be part of Serbia, although Serbia no longer claims that land.
The land is under de facto administration by Croatia since the Croatian War of Independence  but Croatia has blocked people's access to Liberland since shortly after its founding. Croatia has also prevented Croatian citizens and other EU citizens from visiting the area. Before that, just about anyone could visit the area.
No country that is a member of the United Nations has recognized Liberland, although Liberland has opened official relations with Somaliland as well as other partially recognized and unrecognized nations and micronations.
Location[change | change source]
The border disagreement along the Danube River valley started in 1947 but was left unresolved during the existence of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The disagreement got bigger after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Serbia thinks the thalweg of the Danube valley and the center line of the river is the international border between the two countries. Croatia disagrees and claims that the international border lies along the old lines of the cadastral municipalities located along the river — as the Danube was in the 19th century before meandering and hydraulic engineering works altered its course. As a result, Croatia claims a large part of the disputed area controlled by Serbia, while Serbia does not claim the much smaller parts on the other side.
The area is about 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi), and most of it is covered with forests. A journalist from the Czech newspaper Parlamentní listy who visited the area in April 2015 found a house that had been abandoned for about thirty years, according to people living in the vicinity. The access road was reported to be in a bad condition.
The Danube River, an international waterway with free access to the Black Sea for several landlocked nations, runs along the self-proclaimed territory. Liberland visitors and citizens come to and from the area by boat.
History[change | change source]
Proclamation[change | change source]
The flag consists of a yellow background (symbolizing libertarianism) with a black stripe running horizontally through the centre (symbolizing anarchy or rebellion) and the coat of arms in the centre. Jedlička is a member of the Czech Party of Free Citizens, which bases its values on the classical liberal ideology.
Jedlička stated that neither Serbia, Croatia nor any other nation claims the land (it is terra nullius). The border, he argued, was defined in accordance with both Croatian and Serbian border claims and did not interfere with any other state's sovereignty. Jedlička said in April 2015 that an official diplomatic note would be sent to both Croatia and Serbia, and later to all other states, with a formal request for international recognition.
On 18 December 2015, President Jedlička presented the first provisional government of Liberland and its Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice as well as two vice presidents.[self-published source]
Access to Liberland[change | change source]
In May 2015, Vít Jedlička and his translator Sven Sambunjak were shortly detained by Croatian police after making an attempt to cross the border. Jedlička spent one night in jail and then was convicted and ordered to pay a penalty for illegal crossing of the Croatian border but appealed the verdict. He claimed that there were at least three Liberland citizens inside the area, who came from Switzerland. Later that month, Vít Jedlička was detained again. Initially, reporters were able to enter the area with Jedlička but subsequently they were also denied entry, including journalists from the Serbian public broadcast service Radio Television of Vojvodina, and from the Bosnian newspaper Dnevni Avaz.
The people arrested were from many countries, including Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and the US. Croatian police have continued arresting people, including those who entered the area by boat via the international waterway. One of them, a Danish activist Ulrik Grøssel Haagensen, was placed in house arrest for 5 days before being sentenced to 15 days of prison, triggering some protests in Denmark.
In May 2016, several appeals court decisions from Croatia were published. The court upheld the rulings that crossing into Liberland from Croatia is illegal, but found the convictions for entering Liberland from Serbia were not correct. The court said that the lower court committed "a fundamental breach of misdemeanor proceedings" and "essential procedural violations". It further ruled that "the facts were incorrectly and incompletely established [by the prosecutor] which could lead to misapplication of substantive law". A retrial was ordered in 6 of the 7 appeals. The lower court is required to determine the location of the border and the border crossing, but has not done this yet.[self-published source] Since that time, visitors have come the area in boats, but have not permanently settled the area.
Legality[change | change source]
Croatia and Serbia have dismissed Jedlička's claims as non-important, although the two countries have reacted in different ways. On 24 April 2015, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that while they consider the affair a trivial matter, the "new state" does not infringe upon the Serbian border, which is delineated by the Danube. Croatia, which blocks people from accessing Liberland, has stated that after international arbitration, it should be awarded to Croatia or Serbia, not to a third party.
An article in the Chicago Journal of International Law, the law review of the University of Chicago Law School, examined Liberland's claim to statehood in light of the criteria laid out by the Montevideo Convention. According to the author, "Croatia’s insistence that Liberland is part of Serbia could constitute a renunciation of Croatia’s legal rights to Liberland. Conversely, if the territory that Liberland claims as its own is Serbian, the Serbian government’s renunciation of its title to that land could also be a quitclaim that would transform the legal status of the land to terra nullius. In both instances, the territory would belong to the first entity —in this case Liberland— to claim it.”
Reactions[change | change source]
Legal experts in Serbia and Croatia have asked if, under international law, Jedlička has the right to claim the area, which is currently the subject of a dispute between the two nations but claimed by neither one. Journalists have been uncertain as to how serious Jedlička is about his claims, with some calling it a publicity stunt.
On 20 May 2015 Petr Mach, the leader of the Party of Free Citizens, expressed support for the creation of a state based on ideas of freedom, adding that the Party of Free Citizens wants the Czech Republic to become a similarly free country.
Goran Vojković, professor of law and columnist from the Croatian news portal Index.hr, described Liberland as a "circus which threatens Croatian territory", and argued that there was a risk that Croatia's claim to control land on the other side of the Danube may be weakened by the attention that the Liberland project has drawn to the border dispute.
In 2016, an article in Stratfor summarized the initiative as follows: "Liberland is a curious case because, in principle, none of the actors that could claim control over it seems interested in doing so. But this will probably remain a curiosity with negligible consequences at the international level. For the rest of the world's disputed territories, violence and diplomacy will remain the main tools to claim ownership.
Citizenship[change | change source]
According to its web page, Liberland is currently looking for those who have respect for other people and respect the opinions of others, regardless of their race, ethnicity, orientation, or religion, have respect for private ownership which is untouchable, and have not been punished for serious criminal offences. Liberland received 200,000 applications in a week. In the beginning of May 2015, Liberland accepted around thirty citizens. An event was supposed to take place in the claimed territory, but Croatian border police stopped the group from entering it from the Croatian side. As of October 2017, Liberland has awarded citizenship to between 300 and 400 people, to persons who have "helped move the country forward" or earned at least 5000 Merits. On February 16, 2018, former Congressman Ron Paul was presented with a Liberland passport and citizenship certificate by Jedlička and his cabinet.
Liberland also presents an Order of Merit award called the "First Class Order of Merit" to persons who have contributed to the development of Liberland or to the ideas of freedom. Recipients have included publisher Steve Forbes, economist Mark Skousen, Croatian Member of Parliament Ivan Pernar, and others.
The Liberland constitution has been drafted and revised several times. The draft consists of four chapters. It includes a Bill of Rights and regulates the public administration, the political institutions, the legislative power, and the judicial power.
Recognition[change | change source]
There has been no diplomatic recognition of Liberland by any member of the United Nations. However, Liberland has established relations with Somaliland, a self-declared state that proclaimed its independence from Somalia in 1991. Liberland and Somaliland signed an Memorandum of Understanding in September 2017 vowing to establish closer relations and cooperate in the areas of technology, energy and banking. 
Liberland President Jedlička and members of Liberland's provisional government make regular goodwill visits around the world to make the case for Liberland and to promote diplomatic and commercial ties to the project. In 2017, Jedlička met with U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse and the Democratic Shadow Senator from Washington, D.C. Paul Strauss as well as several other elected representatives in the United States. In February 2018, Jedlička and his U.S. team went to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as Senator Lamar Alexander.
Liberland has also established relations with the region of Savoie (Savoy), an independent and self-governed territory from the 11th century until 1860, when it was annexed to France. Today, Savosian people are a minority in their own territory and their claims are not taken into account by the government of France. Liberland has also begun dialogue with the region of Brittany (Bretagne), among others.
Official statements from states[change | change source]
- Croatia: Liberland has been mentioned by the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs but publicly rejected as a joke. On 29 June 2015, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign affairs said that Gornja Siga's status is undetermined, but it is not terra nullius, and after international arbitration, it will be awarded to Croatia or Serbia, not to a third party. However, in a May 2016 letter to Interior Minister Vlaho Orepić, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miro Kovač referred to Liberland as "a provocative idea which has reached serious proportions" and that it "represents a risk to the Republic of Croatia." On 17 January 2017, Liberland was discussed and debated in the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) by Ivan Pernar of the Zivi Zid party.[self-published source]
- Serbia: The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that Liberland does not infringe upon the border of Serbia, but the project is seen as a "non-important matter."
- Egypt: The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned people of the possibility of scams about Liberland directed at people looking for jobs abroad. "Egyptians should seek information from the Foreign Ministry rather than social media before travelling for work."
- Czech Republic: The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs disassociated itself from the activities of Mr. Jedlička, stating it has nothing to do with them. The ministry added that "Mr. Jedlička, as well as other Czech citizens staying in the territory of Croatia or Serbia, is obliged to abide by the local legal code. The Czech Republic considers the activities of Mr. Jedlička inappropriate and potentially harmful." Through the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Zagreb, it warned that the "efforts to create some new 'state' have no basis in international law," and that "in the territory of Croatia, citizens of the Czech Republic as well as other foreigners are obliged to adhere to the Croatian legal code, including the current regime on the Croatian-Serbian border. Crossing the Croatian border (i.e., the external border of the European Union) outside specified border crossings, as it is done by travelers to the so-called Liberland, is in clear violation of the code."
- Poland: On 24 July 2016, 7 members of Polish Parliament (Sejm) from Kukiz'15 in cooperation with local Liberland activists asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski when Poland would recognize the Free Republic of Liberland as an independent state.[self-published source], with a follow-up in August. The reply was that Liberland doesn't meet the criteria for statehood.
Support from political parties[change | change source]
Since 2015, several minor freedom parties expressed support for the creation of Liberland. They are the Capitalist Party in Norway, the Libertarian Party (Spain), The Swiss Independence Party up! (Unabhängigkeitspartei), the Liberal Democratic Party (Turkey) (LDP) the Libertarian Party of Canada, the Libertarian Party (United States) and the UK Libertarian Party.
Statements from other micronation projects[change | change source]
A few micronations have expressed support for the idea of Liberland.
- The Kingdom of North Sudan, which claims the Bir Tawil area on the border between Egypt and Sudan, has recognized Liberland.
- The Kingdom of Enclava, which claims part of the disputed pocket north of Liberland, has recognized Liberland.
- The Principality of Sealand has indicated their support for Liberland.
Statements from organizations[change | change source]
- On 16 April 2017 Bitnation has announced a partnership with Liberland.
- On 20 April 2017 Liberland applied for admission to the UNPO. The application was officially presented and defended a month later in Brussels, Belgium. In June 2017, a delegation from Liberland was invited to observe the proceedings of the 13th General Assembly during which the President and members of the presidency were elected.[self-published source]
- On 25 April 2018, Liberland signed a bilateral recognition agreement with IIMSAM, an Intergovernmental Observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
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In the week since Liberland announced its creation and invited prospective residents to join the project, they have received about 200,000 citizenship applications – one every three seconds – from almost every country in the world.
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- "Odpowiedź na interpelację ponowną nr 4903. W sprawie notyfikowania uznania niepodległości Wolnej Republiki Liberlandu" [Answer to the second question, No. 4903. On the notification of recognition of the independence of the Free Republic of Liberia]. sejm.gov.pl (in Polish). 26 September 2016.
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- Vickery, Nate (2016-08-17). "The Green Nation of Liberland: Plausible or Far Fetched – TechMalak". TechMalak. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
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- "Liberland Applies for the UNPO Membership | Liberland Press". Liberland Press. 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
Other websites[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Liberland.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide about: Liberland|
- Official website, in English and Czech
- Interview with founder Vít Jedlička (in Czech)
- InSerbia article (in English)
- Welcome to Liberland, the World’s Newest Country (Maybe) (in English)
- Documentary film about Liberland – "This No Man’s Land Of Mine"
- Sovereign state