Neutral Moresnet

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Neutral Moresnet[1] was a tiny Belgian-Prussian condominium that existed from 1816 to 1920 between present-day Belgium and Germany. It is now the Belgian city of Kelmis. Today, it is especially of interest to Esperantists because of initiatives to found an Esperanto-speaking state on the territory in the early 20th century.

Prior to Belgian independence in 1830, the territory was a Netherlands-Prussian condominium. During the First World War, the territory was annexed into Prussia, although the allies did not recognise the annexation.




After the demise of Napoleon's Empire, the Congress of Vienna of 1814/1815 redrew the European map, aiming at creating a balance of power. One of the borders to be delineated was the one between the newly-founded United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Prussia. Both parties could agree on the larger part of the territory, as borders mostly followed older lines, but the district of Moresnet proved problematic, mainly because of the valuable zinc spar mine called Altenberg (German) or Vieille Montagne (French) located there. Both the Netherlands and Prussia were keen to appropriate this resource, which was needed in the processing of zinc and brass - at that time, Bristol in England was the only other place where zinc was processed.[2]

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