Croatian TV Visits Liberland for President Jedlicka’s Birthday

Paul Bradbury

September 12, 2023 – 8 years after its founding, the self-proclaimed Free State of Liberland is in the news again, as Croatian media takes an increasing interest, this time for President Jedlicka’s 40th birthday.

Everything about this story is insane, especially as it is taking place in the 21st century in the Balkans.

The short version (Google is your friend for the full background):

Liberland is in green

Incredibly, after years of bitter fighting during the Homeland War and the breakup of former Yugoslavia, there remained a 7km2 chunk of land on the banks of the Danube on the Croatian side (but officially Serbian territory) which neither side claimed as theirs when the border negotiations took place.

President Jedlicka at 40 with the Liberland flag

Sensing an opportunity, Czech citizen Vit Jedlicka popped down from Prague with his girlfriend and best mate, planted a flag and declared the Free State of Liberland, a Utopian, libertarian society with voluntary taxation, and applications for citizens available to all.

While Serbia did not react, the Croatian police took a dim view and have been preventing anyone from accessing the land since President Jedlicka’s declaration on April 13, 2015. After the initial furore (even the New York Times ran a piece), regional media coverage has been modest at best.

And then, in 2023, something (actually a few things) changed.

When Croatia entered the Schengen Zone on January 1, 2023, the disputed territory not only bordered the official Croatian border, but also the new external Schengen border. There were no longer Croatian borders between Hungary and Croatia, for example. So in theory, there was nothing to stop someone with a Schengen pass from taking a jetski down the Danube and parking up in Liberland.

One chap who did just that was popular YouTuber Niko Olimana back in April of this year. In a superbly produced video that has been watched over 8 million times, Niko managed to get to Liberland at the fourth attempt, earning a kicking from a Croatian policeman in the process. That incident was caught on film and the policeman is being disciplined, according to Croatian media reports.

The video was released a few weeks ago, and several days later, President Jedlicka announced a border crossing between the two countries, and free passage to Liberland, subject to a Schengen visa and Croatian police check. There was even a Liberland houseboat moored on the border, which acted as a customs house and purveyor of Liberland stamp in your passport.

It sounded incredible after so many years of not being able to visit. I decided to pay a visit last month to see if things had really changed, inviting a PIXSELL photographer to join me. You can read my article – Visiting Liberland 2016 v 2023 – a MASSIVE Difference, and see the PIXSELL video below.

The PIXSELL photos and video were all over the Croatian media, and the story had come to life again. I personally had no problems with the police – politeness and procedures. And I visited at the time of the first construction of wooden buildings.

President Jedlicka decided to celebrate his 40th birthday on Liberland, inviting both the Serbian and Croatian media to the event. There was even a private plane collecting guests from Istanbul, Munich, Belgrade and Zagreb.

Among those who visited were a crew from Dnevnik, who filed this video report below.

According to the media report above, the Croatian police were quite active, and there were several arrests, as well as President Jedlicka apparently being banned from Croatia for 5 years. As far as I can gather, it seems that the arrests were related to illegal camping (or intent to illegal camping) and intent to start campfires. Given that this is outside the Schengen border, it would be interesting to get the view of a constitutional expert. Anyone with any knowledge they want to share can contact me on [email protected] Subject Liberland.

According to the TV report, Liberland is also paying salaries of 2,400 euro a month for those who want to help build the county. More than double the average Croatian salary.

But while the tents are not allowed, the hammocks and solar wooden houses remain.

By all accounts, the party was a success, and we await more details of this bizarre and totally unusual story.


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