In the week since Liberland announced its creation and invited prospective residents to join the project, they have received about 200,000 citizenship applications – one every three seconds – from almost every country in the world.
Prospective citizens are also offering Liberland their expertise in areas from solar power and telecoms to town planning and coin minting. “There is a spontaneous ordering taking place,” Jedlicka says. “People have planned the whole city in three days and others really want to move in and invest … what seemed like a dream now really looks possible.”
Liberland’s only stipulations are that applicants respect individual rights, opinions and private property, and have no criminal record or Nazi or Communist party background.
Jedlicka says: “The model citizen of Liberland would be [American founding father] Thomas Jefferson, which is why we established the country on his birthday. Citizens will be able to pursue happiness and this is the place where we can make this happen.”
Crucial to this flourishing, he believes, is fiscal policy. Liberland is the dream of a man whose earlier membership of the Czech Civic Democratic party and current loyalty to the Free Citizens party puts him firmly on the right. Staunchly anti-EU, Jedlicka says he has “pretty close relations” with the Swiss People’s party and “will meet with British politicians to discuss Nigel Farage’s plans to leave the EU”.
“Taxation will be optional and people will only finance specific development projects,” says Jedlicka. “We have to see how the foreign ministries react and we need to explain to them the kind of prosperity we can bring to the region. It will bring in money from all over the world: not only to Liberland, which would be a tax haven, but to the whole area. We could turn this area into a Monaco…
Vit Jedlicka, the founder and President of Liberland, or the Free Republic of Liberland to give it its full title, explains how it started:
The key starting point would be to find a piece of land, unclaimed by any country, as was the case of this seven square kilometers of land along the Croatian and Serbian border. Croatia claimed that the territory belongs to Serbia but Serbia doesn’t want to rule over it, a difficult situation that has lasted for more than twenty years. This area along the west bank of the Danube River was basically abandoned by both of these countries. This made for an ideal place to start a country.
Serbia’s ministry of foreign affairs called the creation of the country a “frivolous act,” while Croatia said it was a “virtual quip.” But after exactly seven months, Europe’s youngest nation—if you can call it that—survives. Liberland has a constitution, a flag, an anthem, and a motto…
Land usage aside, however, Liberland has an even more pressing problem—how to handle its potential citizenry. Right now, borders are closed and Liberland’s only house, supposed to become its parliament, remains empty. “The Croatian police is blockading our frontiers and stopping Liberlandians from entering their motherland,” Jedlička claims. The president himself says he has been twice detained by Croatian officers. “They always treated me like a president and released me quickly, but they were not so nice with the other settlers,” he says.
Clearly there wouldn’t be a smoking ban in Liberland. I occasionally dream of a little country like this: a country where you can, well,… sit in a bar and drink a beer and smoke a cigarette. A country with the absolute minimum of laws, rather than the absolute maximum. A country with an absolute minimum of taxation, rather than the absolute maximum.
In the past, when life got too oppressive in Europe, people just got into boats and sailed off to America, to found their own colonies with their own rules (or lack of them). Now America has gradually turned into another superstate with lots of taxes, and lots of rules and regulations. Where can you go to get away from it all?
The real problem these days is one-size-fits-all superstates like the EU.
We need more little countries like this, making their own rules. Why not give the Islamic State its own little 7 squ km state, in which they can chop each others’ heads off to their hearts’ content? Why not give smokers their own country, where smokers can smoke themselves to death?