hidden europe 23

Footnotes to history: lost microstates

by Nicky Gardner


We have all heard of Europe's microstates: Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, etc. But who now remembers the microstates of history? The Banat Republic, Carnaro, North Ingria and the Bavarian Soviet Republic.

There was a moment, studying the Balkan region in the mid-nineties, when we stumbled on a little micro-polity that during its brief existence featured on few maps. The Republika Zapadna Bosna (Republic of Western Bosnia) never really made its mark in international affairs, but during the tortured days of the Bosnian war, there really was a spell when the Bosnian town of Velika Kladusa declared independence and set itself up as a tiny nation state.

It was a curious place, essentially a company town dominated by an agricultural and food processing combine called Agrokomerc. The company's persuasive boss, one Fikret Abdic (who now enjoys the long-term hospitality of the Croatian government following a conviction in 2002 for war crimes), developed a cult following in the town which enjoyed an unusual level of prosperity. So Abdic set up the Republic of Western Bosnia, and the fledgling republic's citizens were more than happy to indulge the man who paid their salaries.

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