This Summer, I embarked on road-water trip, hoping to find Liberland, meeting the people who are making it and witnessing it. A gallery of portraits and a series of adventures on the way to a controversial form of utopia.
I am just back from Liberland. Well, back from trying to go to Liberland. After being stung by hundreds of mosquitoes, chased by the Croatian police, scared and confused by locals and Liberland supporters, I am back with a few trophies : uncountable mosquito bites, four Serbian stamps on my French passport, no Liberland citizenship but a growing confusion about the new-born micronation.
Who would like to create a country on a 7 square kilometer “disputed” land at the border of Serbia and Croatia – a few km south of Batina in Croatia and West of Bezdan in Serbia -, on the Danube bank? More than a border between two countries which not so long ago were at war, it’s also a European border and a dangerous path for immigrants and all sorts of traffics. Well it’s an explosive “Balkanic” area.
That’s the place Czech economist and ultra-liberal politician Vit Jedlicka picked up from the list of Terra Nullius (no man’s land) existing in the world to create Liberland last April. “I didn’t want to become a president, it’s a side thing really. My idea was to make the world a freer place by introducing a new state which would be a role model for other states”, he tells me when I met him after he landed with a private jet on Friday night to spend the weekend at his HQ on the Serbian side. How does he want to achieve this? By creating a tax-free state, inspired by Monaco, Hong Kong, Lichtenstein.
I am puzzled as no one is allowed to enter Liberland. Even Vit was arrested in May by the Croatian police. A very zealous police force who constantly patrol the zone. With my friend Agnès, we did try to approach Liberland, by car first with a Croatian plate. By a sort of miracle, we didn’t bump into any police car or patrol but fences deterred us. Yes, we could have walked the few kilometres left but got cold feet. Honestly, we were not keen on getting more mosquitoes’ cloud attacks and a Croatian welcome which would end up in a night in a cell plus a few hundred euros fine…
We went back and Agnès spotted some fishermen by the river. We had a few drinks on the way with them (they were from the large local Hungarian minority). They couldn’t believe we were still free.
We also tried to reach the Promise Land by boat, from the atmospheric Carda Cod Karine, owned by a character called Petar whose pigs walk around customers!
His friend Joko took us on his boat to the banks of Liberland but we cautiously stayed on the Serbian side of the Danube as the police was much present on President Vit’s land. Captain Joko decided to have a little bit of fun with the Croatians, suddenly accelerating, entering the Croatian waters.
Their speedboat chased us and Joko had fun for a few minutes – I did too – before wisely getting back into the Serbian side… Petar was waiting for us and his Carda was worthy of Emir Kusturica’s Black Cat White Cat film, well a wonderland to me!
More photos here and more adventures very soon…
At Petar’s : Carda Kod Carine
To (try to) get to Liberland, the nearest airport is Osijek in Croatia or you can also try via Belgrade (it’s then a 2-3 hours ride or 5 hours train)
More about Liberland from Bloomberg