Eight years into its existence, the unrecognized ultra-libertarian micronation Liberland was invaded by its neighbor. Croatian police, accompanied by forestry workers, raided the island – which is located in a disputed territory between two Balkan countries – and seized SUPs and food supplies. But not the will for freedom.
The west bank of the Danube River has some small plots of land disputed between Croatia and Serbia. For a long time after the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, neither country claimed the islands, of which the largest is called “Gornja Siga.”
On 13th April 2015, Czech Republic politician Vít Jedlička declared the forgotten land to be an independent nation, the Free Republic of Liberland. With a total area of 7 square kilometers, it is larger than Monaco and the Vatican, although inhabited by noone.
Jedlička is a Eurosceptic who believes in freedom from taxation and overregulation, so the new country is supposed to be a harbor for ultra-libertarianism. Having been elected by “The Preparatory Committee,” Jedlička became the president of Liberland.
With the rise of cryptocurrencies, Liberland also became a crypto nation, as its main currency is a token called “Liberland merit.” However, it accepts donations both in cryptocurrencies and in US dollars.
Inspired by the Estonian E-Residency program, Liberland developed its own cards for personal identification, the E-Governance system.
Eight years later, the island still has zero inhabitants. But the country Liberland, while seen as a joke by many, now has 5 ministers, two vice presidents, more than 240 thousand e-citizens, and a three times larger number of applicants. It’s represented by over 100 “active representative offices worldwide,” many of which are run by IT or cryptocurrency evangelists.
It did not become a Singapore in Europe, but a small crypto festival, the “Floating Man,” takes place on the boat each year. The eighth pilgrimage this summer was already accompanied by the Croatian police.
But last weekend, the Liberland suffered its largest invasion by neighboring forces.
“Free citizens of the world, Liberland is facing an unprecedented attack by Croatian authorities. A group of Croatian policemen and people from the forestry came and confiscated all personal property on the territory of Liberland. They have also brutally destroyed all our buildings,” the president Jedlička’s cry for help was released in a video clip.
While defeated, Liberlanders put up the fight.
SUPs, apples, and carrots seized, feelings were hurt
On the International Day of Peace, the 21st of September, Croatian police, accompanied a private company on behalf of Croatian Forests, entered the island and seemingly removed the installations, seizing the belongings of Liberlanders.
Or, as the distressed nation announced, Croatia “made an unannounced extraterritorial incursion into Liberland and demolished and removed Liberland property. Liberlanders living on the land were threatened with arrest if they interfered.”
The released video footage revealed the struggle with the local police, with island visitors trying to protect their recreational equipment while not following police orders.
The video shows police taking several people out, some trying to argue, and some trying to resist, shouting “Don’t touch me.” Forestry workers are seen to be collecting groceries such as apples and carrots, and one girl is really upset about her inflatable SUP board being taken.
“We are calling on the international community as well as on Croatian politicians and Croatian institutions to stop this madness. It is an unnecessary, unprovoked act of violence against our peaceful nation, against our borders, and against our sovereignty. We hope this is the last incident in our long-lasting relations,” Jedlička said.
An unspecified number of Liberlanders were arrested under the vague charges of “failure to comply with a lawful order,” the press release reads.
“Croatian police escorted the demolition crews who committed this act of indiscriminate destruction. This assault was committed without warning and without the forest company or police issuing any reasons or justification.”
Islanders were not given any time to gather their belongings. The micronation has already calculated its material losses, which include:
- Two well-constructed garden houses and one marina house
- One well-constructed and fully functioning field kitchen with multiple refrigeration units and stoves
- Generators and electronic equipment
- Starlink antenna and router
- Quad bike, bicycles and other transportation
- Food and other supplies
- Personal belongings
This act clearly goes against the Constitution of Liberland.
“The motto of Liberland is “To live and let live” as it prides itself on personal and economic freedom for its people; this includes limited power given to the government to ensure less interference with the freedom of the people and the nation as a whole. These ideas and ideals are written and guaranteed by the Constitution,” Liberland’s website reads.
Thankfully, no one was injured physically.
The fight will continue, investments underway
Liberlanders have promised to fight a legal battle, rebuild immediately, and even bring significant investments.
“We have documented this incident and the individuals involved with photos and video, and we are already pursuing legal action against these acts on several levels,” the admin at Liberland Press warns.
They claim that the territory has never been part of Croatia, and this “has been confirmed in their diplomatic correspondence with Serbia as well as its complete absence in all official published maps of Croatia.”
At the same time, the micronation hails Croatia border police’s activities aimed at safeguarding Croatia’s national boundaries and the broader Schengen borders within Liberland “as their efforts contribute to enhancing the overall security of our own nation.”
“The settlement will be rebuilt immediately. Plans for the next months include the construction of a hotel, children’s park, adventure tours, boating, cycling, and much more. We also look forward to working with the Croatian state forest company, Hrvatske Šume d.o.o., on future harmonious cooperation and to avoid conflict,” the country expressed its dedication.
The president promises a huge Adventure Park in the center of Liberland with a construction of “Hotel New Marina.”
“We were expecting this, but we didn't expect that you guys are coming without any paperwork and that you are coming in such a brutal manner. Let's look into Bright Future together, Croatia and Liberland, and let's build a better future together,” he said.
This was not the first intrusion into the micro country's endeavors. Liberland still remembers September 2017, when Croatian authorities demolished an original hunting lodge.
“Liberland has the ability to bring significant investment, jobs and tourism to this economically depressed region.”
Liberland’s hope for a free future lives on.
More from Cybernews
Subscribe to our newsletter