Analysis – The Pannonian Crisis

By now, most South Maudlandian citizens, and perhaps even some of the wider micronational community, will have heard of the Pannonian Crisis: the ongoing situation in the Autonomous Region of Pannonia, wherein a new country called Liberland claimed territory already claimed by South Maudlandia. From an external perspective, this may sound like a molehill being quickly transformed into a mountain. However, there is more to the Crisis’s backstory than that. Liberland’s extraordinary popularity and Vít Jedlička’s massive profits off this venture are the subject of articles in seemingly every small paper worldwide, and have even captured the attention of bigger newspapers, like The Guardian and The Independent. The rapid rise of Liberland is eclipsing any recognition of the land’s original owner.

The dispute on the Serbo-Croatian border. The territory in question is labelled
The dispute on the Serbo-Croatian border. The territory in question is labelled “Siga”.

Exactly one week ago, the South Maudlandian Government sent a message to Liberland, politely notifying them of the existing claim on Pannonia (or Siga, for those who wish to remain neutral), and calling for peaceful negotiation. A week later, a reply is yet to be issued, and thus we can fairly safely assume that Jedlička is unwilling to co-operate on the matter.

To further complicate the already tense situation between the two states, several other micronations also lay claim to the region. The most notable of these is Paraduin, a country gaining a small amount of notoriety for pulling down the Liberlandian flag flying over Siga, as well as for a less-than-serious official site. The legitimacy of Paraduinian sovereignty is actually unclear, at least in the eyes of South Maudlandian authorities. Paraduin variously cite two different dates for their claim: 5 March and 1 April 2015. This presents a problem, in that the date of the South Maudlandian claim is 18 March, nearly exactly halfway between the two. One theory is that a declaration of annexation was signed on the former date, but not approved by the parliament until the latter.

Macronational intervention has also somewhat inflamed the situation. Croatian authorities are reported to have implemented a roadblock and fenced off the area, evidently implying that they hold some level of jurisdiction over it. Oddly enough, these are the same authorities who previously rejected all claim to Siga in favour of territories on the opposite bank of the Danube, thus creating the terra nullius in the first place. According to the Confederation of Âûtia, yet another micronation intent on making a claim to the territory, overnight stays and the planting of flags are now illegal too.

However, as long as Croatia affirm that they don’t own the territory (while showing signs suggesting the exact opposite) and Paraduin keep confusing everyone with mixed messages, the biggest threat of all to South Maudlandian sovereignty over Pannonia is Liberland. Perhaps the region is on the brink of war after all, thanks to President Jedlička’s lack of diplomatic competence.

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Pannonian Paranoia: Is War Imminent?

Little over a week ago, a certain Czech politician called Vít Jedlička declared a 6.5 km2 chunk of terra nullius, sandwiched between Serbia and Croatia, to be the Free Republic of Liberland. This “political stunt” received extensive coverage from the mainstream press, with articles featured in such news sites as Time Magazine, Fox News and The Independent, as well as local media. In its first week as a country, Liberland has apparently received over 250,000 citizenship applications.

Except, this was no terra nullius to begin with. Going back in time to little less than a month before Liberland and the surrounding media circus ever existed, reveals that the very same territory was claimed by another country first. Siga, as the land in question had historically been known, was annexed by South Maudlandia on 18 March 2015, and renamed Pannonia.

The resulting Pannonian Crisis is a somewhat strange affair. For a time of about a week, neither party realised they had conflicting claims on the same territory. Then, just yesterday, the South Maudlandian Government was alerted to Liberland’s existence. Since then, President Matthew Phillips has tried to make contact with the Liberlandian Government, in order to arrange peaceful negotiation to help resolve the crisis. As of yet, no reply has been issued from Liberland, evidently due to an inundation of e-mails being received by the Government. Thus, it seems that Jedlička and his right-libertarian supporters remain completely unaware of South Maudlandia and its claim to Siga/Pannonia/Liberland.

In the micronational world, conflicting claims due to unawareness is a fairly normal phenomenon. Ordinarily, a Violation of Sovereignty by a minor power could be largely ignored. However, despite its brief history, Liberland is garnering much international support, and is proving not to be the “minor power” one might expect of a week-old micronation. In other words, the new threat posed to South Maudlandia’s sovereignty over the region should not be ignored. And yet, the enormity of this threat toward the rightful claimant of Pannonia is the very reason why the matter should be, at least initially, dealt with delicately and diplomatically. In effect, due to the very size of the (prospective) Liberlandian population, hasty military action would be a fool’s errand.

Now, to answer the question in the title of this article: is war in Pannonia imminent? Well, it is difficult to tell at this early stage. It is highly likely that the Liberlandians have no malicious intentions, and that this was possibly an oversight on their part. And almost certainly, before a response arrives from Liberland to confirm this, no military intervention will be undertaken. However, it will undoubtedly be their subsequent actions that truly determine the outcome of the Pannonian Crisis: whether we should be lead to war or not.