A brand new country with no official government, no tax, no public services and, as yet, no population. It sounds unbelievable – even a little ridiculous.
But it’s real. Liberland, or the Free Republic of Liberland to give it its full title, is a would-be sovereign state founded April 13 by Vit Jedlicka and two fellow libertarians. Liberland is a micronation – a nation not recognised by world organisations or governments, but with a formal claim of sovereignty to an area.
Liberland’s official website gives those interested a bit of background:
“Liberland came into existence due to a border dispute between Croatia and Serbia. This area along the west bank of the Danube river is not claimed by Croatia, Serbia or any other country. It was therefore terra nullius, a no man’s land, until Vít Jedlička seized the opportunity and on 13 April 2015 formed a new state in this territory – Liberland. The boundary was defined so as not to interfere with the territory of Croatia or Serbia. Its total area of approximately 7 km² is now the third smallest sovereign state, after the Vatican and Monaco.”
Jedlicka took over the area using the homestead principle, whereby unused and unclaimed land can be taken over by any group of people willing to develop it. Essentially, Jedlicka has taken advantage of a border dispute between Croatia and Serbria – and some experts believe that, in due course, it will be found to be owned by Serbia. Its total area of approximately seven square kilometers would make it the third smallest sovereign state in the world, after the Vatican and Monaco.
When developing his nation, Jedlicka and the other founders have no intention to follow any traditional political models. Jedlicka was elected as president – without formally running for the position – by his other founding father and his girlfriend. He wants to run the country on nationalistic principles, binding together those with a common focus: “We are a nation of people who are not happy with the recent status quo, with state interference and high taxation. And what really makes a nation if not a common feeling and approach to something?”
Speaking of taxation, Jedlicka plans to run the country without compulsory tax.
“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.”
The nation’s public services will be private companies and – you guessed it – crowdfunding campaigns. On Liberland’s website, there is the option to donate money, either through bank transfer or bitcoin. Liberland’s government says it has already raised over $45,000 through crowdfunding, which has paid for government offices in Praque and Serbia and a personal assistant.
Jedlicka has already had thousands of applications to live within the country. On the website, Liberland advertises for a population much like an employer might advertise a job:
“Liberland currently needs people who:
- have respect for other people and respect the opinions of others, regardless of their race, ethnicity, orientation, or religion
- have respect for private ownership which is untouchable
- do not have communist, nazi or other extremist past
- were not punished for past criminal offences”
According to Jedlicka, “The motto of Liberland is “To live and let live”, because Liberland prides itself on personal and economic freedom of its people.
“We have decided to start from scratch and show how little state is needed to make society work. The media calls us rightwing but we are not: we are not here for the rich; we are not here for the poor; we are here for everybody. This project has something for everybody and that’s the fantastic thing about it.”
Does it sound like like something from a utopian novel? Sure. Is it a little idealistic? Probably. Currently, Liberland remains an unrecognized country; but if that ever changes, it will be interesting to see how Jedlicka’s unique form of nation will play out.