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Best of Slow Journalism: Liberland

Photo: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

For two years, Czech politician Vít Jedlička looked for a territory on which he could found a country. He considered land for its size, convenience and terrain. There was a plot on the border of Slovenia and Croatia, but at under one square kilometre he deemed it too small. Then there was Bir Tawil, a strip along the border of Egypt and Sudan, which he dismissed as “too inconvenient, dangerous and arid a dominion”. Later, Bir Tawil would become known as the Kingdom of North Sudan, claimed by an American father looking to make his daughter a bona fide princess.

Finally, earlier this year, Jedlička seized his opportunity and raised the flag of Liberland, an aspirational micronation on a patch of land rejected by its neighbours, Croatia and Serbia. Within weeks the new President had discovered that it might take more than a ceremonious flag-raising to settle his new dominion, as he encountered issues of immigration, international relations, security, and hundreds of thousands of citizen applications to process single-handedly.

In this piece for The New York Times Magazine, Gideon Lewis-Kraus presents the struggle between the idealism of founding one’s own country and the reality. Lewis-Kraus spent extended stretches of time with Jedlička, following him as he traveled to England in hopes of appointing an ambassador and to France, where his embassy is already up and running. In doing so, he creates a seductive piece of slow journalism that appeals to our optimistic side. “There are few things more uplifting than the promise that we might start over”, writes Lewis-Kraus of Jedlička’s objectives – and if we can’t yet escape to a land of our own making, we can at least escape briefly this weekend to Liberland.

You can read the piece here.

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