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Leonid Bershidsky

Don't Laugh Off Liberland

A Czech libertarian's attempt to set up a new country may not be entirely serious, but it's worthy of attention.
Maybe better to start from scratch?

Maybe better to start from scratch?

Photographer: Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images

It started as a publicity stunt and continued as a joke. Yet the founding of Liberland, a new European nation, should not be taken lightly.

In setting up Liberland, libertarian Czech politician Vit Jedlicka was inspired by the example of American Jeremiah Heaton. Last year, Heaton traveled to an unclaimed stretch of desert between Egypt and Sudan, where he set up the Kingdom of North Sudan so his seven-year-old daughter could be a princess. Heaton researched the concept of terra nullius, or no man's land, which in previous centuries allowed empires to claim newly discovered territories, then looked for places where it still applied. The 800 square miles of uninhabited rock and sand known as Bir Tawil suited his purpose, and he went off to plant a flag his kids had helped make.