There are plans afoot to attend Trump's inauguration in January, Jedlicka said. “I am honored that my advisors are connected to President Trump through a number of people in his campaign staff and newly appointed key people in his administration,” he said.
However, the relationship between Liberland and the United States may be hamstrung by an unfortunate detail. Officially, Washington does not recognize Liberland as a sovereign state. In fact, neither does any other country.
The state of Liberland was proclaimed in April 2015 by Jedlicka after he asserted sovereignty over a three-square-mile patch of land on the banks of the Danube River. Thanks to a decades-long border dispute between Croatia and Serbia, the area was effectively no man's land; Jedlicka discovered the area on Wikipedia while looking up “terra nullius.” The 33-year-old politician, best known back at home in the Czech Republic for his Euroskepticism, decided it would be a suitable location for a new microstate: a libertarian paradise with optional taxes and limited government power.
Liberland soon had its own flag, constitution, national anthem and motto — “to live and let live.” There are plans to use bitcoin, an electronic currency, for trade. Unfortunately, Liberland continues to lack diplomatic recognition from any nation. Croatian authorities in particular have taken a dim view of the project, detaining Jedlicka and others as they tried to enter the country. On Facebook, the Croatian Foreign Ministry publicly dismissed Liberland as a joke.
Most self-proclaimed states probably fit into that category. In 2005, British journalist Danny Wallace proclaimed his own country in his London apartment and named it “Lovely.” And not long before Liberland was proclaimed, a man from Virginia claimed an 800-square-mile patch along the border between Egypt and Sudan and declared it the Kingdom of North Sudan (he later told The Washington Post that he did it to impress his kids).
But Liberland seems different — and people are taking it seriously. The country's official website allows people to sign up to be citizens, only restricting those with a “communist, Nazi or extremist past.” Hundreds of thousands of people have signed up, including about 12,165 Americans, according to Jedlicka. “I think it is a natural development as we are actively revoking the spirit of American revolution,” he reasoned.
In 2016 — the year Trump was elected amid a global wave of populist anger — the appeal of Liberland perhaps makes a bit more sense. Jedlicka has formed ties with other anti-establishment European political movements: Liberland's German representative, Christian Jacken, is a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD). Meanwhile, a number of legal decisions in Croatia have gone in Liberland's favor, emboldening Jedlicka.
Jedlicka says U.S. relations are at the top of Liberland's agenda. He has appointed Thomas Walls, an American, as Liberland's foreign minister. Jedlicka was planning to fly to Miami on Saturday for meetings to improve U.S.-Liberland relations.
There's hope that Trump may be more receptive to Jedlicka's vision. On Friday, the president-elect showed himself willing to break diplomatic norms with a phone call with Taiwan's president, a clear shift from the decades-long U.S. “one China” policy. Jedlicka also said he welcomed reports that Trump may nominate Czech-born Ivana Trump, his ex-wife, as ambassador to the Czech Republic, Liberland's diplomatic base.
However, when asked who in Trump's orbit had ties to Liberland, Walls said it would be “premature” to reveal the links at this time. “We can say we have a strong supporter of Liberland who is a close adviser to one of Trump's already announced cabinet picks and somewhat famous in his own right,” Walls said. “Another member of the Liberland team has just published one of Trump's books in Europe.”
Trump's transition team did not respond to requests for comment.
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