A micronation established by a Czech politician on seven square kilometres of ‘no man’s land’ between Serbia and Croatia sees itself as a libertarian haven.

The motto of the Free Republic of Liberland, proclaimed on April 13th, 2015, is “To live and let live”. The Republic has a flag, a coat of arms, but not yet an anthem or a national constitution. It occupies a territory of 7 square kilometres not claimed by any other state in the world – three times more than the Principality of Monaco. It has significant natural resources in the form of timber, as the territory is covered by forests, and occupies a strategic position on the bank of Danube. It has a President, a 31-year-old Czech politician Vit Jedlička, and at least 150,000 people are willing to become its citizens – at least according to the number of applications reported on the Free Republic’s site.

The border between Serbia and Croatia goes along the Danube but does not follow the course of the river exactly, and the exact line of demarcation is disputed between Serbia and Croatia. Many territories claimed by Croatia are currently held by Serbia. Gornja Siga is Croatian, according to Serbs, and Serbian, according to Croatians. To take this land means to accept the other country’s vision of the border. That is why nobody claims this land – except Jedlička.  

The founders of Liberland want to “build a country where honest people can prosper without being oppressed by governments making their lives unpleasant through the burden of unnecessary restrictions and taxes”. They say they are “inspired by countries such as Monaco, Liechtenstein, or Hong Kong”. It is worth noting that while Monaco is smaller than Liberland, with a territory of 2 square kilometres, Liechtenstein (160 sq. km) and Hong Kong (1,140 sq. km) are much larger.

Contrary to many headlines, Liberland is not planning to adopt bitcoin as its currency. Vit Jedlička stated in an interview that they plan to establish their own cryptocurrency, but no other currency is likely to be forbidden in the new state. So bitcoin will not be forbidden, but will not enjoy any official status in the micronation, either.

Everyone can make an application for citizenship of Liberland except for people with Nazi, Communist, other extremist, or criminal past. There are no restrictions on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion, and everyone is required to respect other people and their property. While the website of Liberland is currently not very developed, its forum is full of life. In thousands of messages written in twenty different languages (the leading languages being at present Turkish, English, and Arabic), enthusiasts discuss all manner of topics, ranging from philosophy, religion, and law to approaches to parenthood and the building of infrastructure, such as roads, in the Republic.

No existing political entity has commented on the creation of Liberland so far. Still, according to the website, Vit Jedlička has already had personal meetings with the ambassador of Austria to the Czech Republic Count Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff and the chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee of the OECD William White. The flag planted by Liberland founders on April 13th appears to have since been taken down by Croatian authorities. In a Facebook post, the Croatian Foreign Ministry dismissed the project, saying that “a virtual joke, no matter how nice it looks, is but a virtual joke and we cannot have any official comment for it” (thus, a little ironically, commenting on the issue at stake).

Alexey Tereshchenko

 

Update: The Free Republic of Liberland now has an anthem.