New year, new tactics, new try: The activists around the self-proclaimed president of the fictive republic of Liberland, Vít Jedlička, don’t want to give up. For the first birthday of its foundation there is supposed to be a party in the Serbian-Croatian borderland. The Czech harshly criticized the post on my blog where I had discussed the Liberland idea and its implementation critically.
It was in April 2015 when the Czech Vít Jedlička (32) was appointed president by his friends and proclaimed a little piece of land on the Croatian banks of the Danube, vis-à-vis Sombor (Serbia), “Free Republic of Liberland”. In lack of access to his own land, Jedlička and his people settled down in Bezdan and Bački Monoštor near Sombor. Ever since he has been travelling around the world and has been looking for political recognition – without effect so far.
His activists try to occupy the area regularly. The Croatian police prevent them from it.
One year later the libertarian politician hasn’t got much closer to his goal. Liberland doesn’t exist. At best medially and digitally.
New tactics planned for the conquer
Recently I met Jedlička in Sombor and asked him what is going to happen next concerning Liberland. His statement was: “We won’t give up”. At the moment they are working hard on the diplomatic scene in Zagreb and Belgrade in order to be able to realise the idea of a free republic on the banks of the Danube.
And precisely? The self-made president didn’t want to make clear statements on that, but he spoke of working with the Croatian government. On enquiry he qualified that those weren’t direct conversations, but members of the government are “reached”.
So far, the Croatian police have always been denying the activists access to the area, which is situated on the Croatian side of the Danube. Jedlička implied that they want to change the earlier strategy to cross over from Serbia to Liberland by boats. “However, I can’t tell everything“, he adds.
In April, for the first birthday of Liberland, there is supposed to be a party in Liberland and one at a time on the Croatian and Serbian side of the Danube, Jedlička announced. The preparations for that are one of the reasons why he visited Sombor.
New camps in Croatia and Serbia
But apparently Jedlička doesn’t expect that his dream of Liberland will be realised soon. “In future we are going to have camps on both sides of the river in Serbia and Croatia. At the moment we are looking for suitable real estates”, he told me.
Moreover, there is going to be a large Liberland festival – also split into three in Liberland, in Croatia and on the Serbian side – probably in Sombor. Jedlička: “We will gather 20,000 people here.”
About Sombor the visionary says: “I love it!” In Sombor they are said to have a lot of supporters. Among them the deputy mayor, Jedlička says, with whom he was in contact and who agreed to help. “We bring a lot of business into the area”, the president is sure.
Nevertheless, the future of Liberland depends on the territorial control over the speck of land the activists think is neither part of Croatia nor Serbia.
“It is hard to tell when we will gain it”, Jedlička said. At the moment they are working on reaching an achievement with Croatia in order to enter Liberland by land.
The idea of Liberland will continue to exist
He assured that he wanted to work his whole life in order to realise the idea of Liberland. If this isn’t enough, the idea of Liberland continues to exist.
However, the presidential conversation in the Gentlemen’s Club von Sombor was less friendly. There he complained about a post on Sombor Blog, which made quite a splash in the Liberland scene and continues to do so. In eight points I wrote down a comment about my opinion on the political idea and its implementation.
The short summary: I think that Jedlička is an impostor who puts the life of his activists in danger, raises unrealisable hopes in refugees, follows an antisocial and inhuman political concept and interferes in the bilateral affairs of Croatia and Serbia. You can read the whole text here.
“How can someone write something like this”
Jedlička comments: “A lot has been written about Liberland so far. A lot of good things. Only a few bad things. But this had been the worst I have ever read about Liberland. How can someone write something like this“, he ranted about my comment on Sombor Blog.
As a journalist I am used to critics and I am able to consider this as a compliment. For journalists there is nothing worse than politicians slapping them on the shoulder.
Jedlička repudiated of wanting to pinch money from refugees. So far this hasn’t been the case.
Last year he spoke out against asylum in several interviews and explains that civil war refugees would be able to get a Liberland citizenship for 10,000 dollars like everybody else.
However, the amount had been fixed that high on purpose in order to only reach interested people above a certain “level”. It is not about pinching money from refugees.
Peaceful ending in the Gentlemen’s Club
He admits that there are deficits concerning financial transparency, but on the donation site this was corrected: “Income and expenditure are now transparent on our donation site.” However, not every donor could be disclosed.
We were not able to agree on more on this day in Sombor. After a couple of deeps the conversation again reached the level of gentlemen, like it befits the location. Peaceful, but not conciliatory.
Let’s wait and see what is coming after the new announcements. Let’s look forward to 20,000 festival visitors in summer in Sombor.
Map: Here you can find Liberland
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Read more english reports from Sombor and Serbia here.
Translation: Aleksandra Davidović, Belgrade