In mid-April a group of Czech citizens had the radical idea of proclaiming their own mini-state. Since then, thousands of people have asked to become citizens of the ‘Free Republic of Liberland‘: a slither of land wedged between Croatia and Serbia some seven square kilometres in size. The rush to join the self-proclaimed micro-nation can be explained by its professed values of tolerance, but also a near-zero level of taxation. Located on the west bank of the River Danube, until now, Liberland had been nothing more than a ‘terra nullius’, a Latin term denoting a ‘nobody’s land’ that doesn’t belong to any state. The strip of land came about as the result of an ancient territorial dispute between Croatia and Serbia. Since the Yugoslavian Wars ended in the 1990s neither side has laid claim to it.

A photo of Liberland published on its official Facebook page.
In order to qualify as an internationally-recognized state, a newly-declared nation must meet several criteria set out by the 1933 Montevideo Convention: a defined territory, a permanent population, a functioning government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

Once it has fulfilled those conditions, Liberland could set itself the ambition of becoming the third biggest micro-state in the world, behind the Vatican and Monaco. Liberland’s president Vít Jedlička believes such a scenario is possible because Liberland already has territory, people who want to live there, an elected head of state (Jedlička himself) and a dozen or so ambassadors.

Liberland’s sources of inspiration are ‘Monaco, Lichtenstein or even Hong Kong’, or, in other words, three fiscal paradises. Liberland’s president, Jedlička, is a 31-year-old Czech politician from the Party of Free Citizens, a political formation that’s both libertarian and eurosceptic.

The flag of Liberland. Photo published on Liberland’s Facebook page.

“In general, plenty of people are interested in escaping countries with high tax rates, no matter where they come from”
On April 20, the Czech branch of ‘Students for Liberty‘ – an international libertarian organization – invited Vít Jedlička to give a lecture at Prague’s University of Economics where he once studied. ‘Students for Liberty’ members Matej Pankovcin, Jan Skapa and Karel Kieslich were also there.

We invited the president of Liberland because this new country has attracted lots of media attention lately. Moreover, we share the same ideas: we wish to become a more free society in which the government plays a smaller role. 
Liberland’s president Vít Jedlička during a lecture given at Prague’s University of Economics on April 20. Photo published on Facebook by ‘Students for Liberty CZ’.
During his lecture, Vít Jedlička showed off his draft of a constitution inspired by those of Switzerland and the United States. It limits the government’s powers, by forbidding raising taxes, for example. One of the students then asked how certain basic services could be provided. He replied that all services would be financed by taxes paid voluntarily and that the market would self-regulate everything else. He added that the state wouldn’t coerce people into paying taxes. 
Vít Jedlička’s lecture at Prague’s University of Economics on April 20. Photo published onFacebook by ‘Students for Liberty CZ’.
The students were very enthusiastic. They were especially keen to ask about technical details, and how to go about getting citizenship… We have loads of friends who have asked to become citizens of Liberland. In general, plenty of people are interested in escaping countries with high tax rates, no matter where they come from.

According to Vít Jedlička, more than 5,000 people have already applied for citizenship. A further 220,000 have signed up to the official website. Amongst them, many have praised the values of tolerance preached by the micro-state, particularly on the religious front.

Photo of Liberland posted on its Facebook page.

I got wind of Liberland in the media, and afterwards I searched a little online in order to find out more. I’d like to become a citizen of this new country because it’s a symbol of freedom in my eyes, a place where all cultures, civilizations and religions can coexist. In Morocco, I haven’t come across the same values. Here, Shiite Muslims don’t have the same rights as everyone else. They’re not very well accepted. I’m obliged to practice my religion in secret [Editor’s note: Morocco, a majority Sunni country, is nevertheless becoming more tolerant of Shiite Islam. Last February, a foundation dedicated to this branch of Islam was opened in Tangiers for the first time in the country’s history].

In principal, my religion wouldn’t be a problem in Liberland. I would be able to live there in peace. That’s why I’d like to be a part of the group of people that build the country. I’m even ready to give up my Moroccan citizenship to have Liberland’s nationality, even if nothing at the moment says I couldn’t have both at the same time.

Photo of Liberland posted on its Facebook page.
During his lecture on April 20, Liberland’s president said that the country would begin handing out citizenship as soon as it had a functioning constitution and secure territorial borders. He failed, however, to clarify exactly how that would be achieved.

When France 24 tried contacting Liberland’s website for more information, we were given an automatic reply explaining that all teams had been currently ‘inundated with questions and requests’.

 Source: France24

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