Denmark: Christiania free at last
22 June 2011
On 21 June, Freetown Christiania and the Danish government concluded an agreement that will enable inhabitants of Europe’s most famous alternative neighbourhood to buy most of the land on which they live from the state. After eight years of difficult negotiations, the liberal-conservative administration and the residents of the “freetown” have finally agreed on procedures for the purchase of the disused Copenhagen naval base, which has been squatted since the 1970s. As the Danish press explains, the Christianites have created a foundation that will buy the land in their name. A perfect solution, according to Politiken, which amounts to "pure Buddhism: a synthesis of peace, harmony and emancipation." The deal marks "the capitulation of conservative Denmark," adds the social-liberal daily, which pays homage to the “pragmatism" of the Minister for Finance, liberal Claus Hjort Frederiksen, who put an end to an eight-year ideological battle.
The pragmatic aspects of the agreement are also praised by Berlingske, which argues that "the destruction of Christiania, which was in principle the appropriate response from a state that respects the rule of law, would probably have resulted in a kind of civil war, and created a huge gap of mistrust between the population and the authorities." The conservative daily is nonetheless critical of the deal. "For 40 years, the Christianites, in their bid to realise their so-called freedom, have lived as parasites on other citizens. Theirs is a private form of freedom that should not be rewarded."
It is a view shared by Jyllands-Posten, which remarks that Christiania is simply stolen property. No one in the community, which was founded on a disused site in 1971, has ever paid for the land, and the price of 10.2 million euros (469 euros per square metre) negotiated by the residents is too low. For the newspaper, "the affair shows that crime on a sufficiently large scale actually pays.” Over the years Christiania has become a hub for illegal drugs, and Jyllands-Posten hopes that the agreement with the government will bring the rule of law to every aspect of the commune "so that there will be no more dealing, and the police will be able to do its job. The Christianites should also set aside the obsessive protection of their privacy so that tourists can take pictures freely – in accordance with the law – and without being attacked."