EspañolVit Jedlicka must be world’s youngest and most accessible president. He is also the leader of the youngest nation in the world: the Free Republic of Liberland. Founded 10 months ago, Liberland is a country based on libertarian principles.
Its neighbors don’t know how to deal with it; it’s not even clear at this point whether or not they should take Liberland seriously.
Liberland is a cosmopolitan enterprise that has enthused activists worldwide with its black and yellow flag and with its slogan: “Live and let live.” It still isn’t formally established in a minuscule no man’s land between Serbia and Croatia, but it’s already poised to become the largest libertarian association in the world with a vast network of “citizens.”
After a trip to Mexico, Jedlick flew to Caracas, Venezuela in order to participate in a forum organized by the local chapter of Students for Liberty. His next destination is the United States, where he will make the case for Liberland as a source for hope in world politics.
What is the current status of Liberland and what are the latest developments?
We have around 400,000 applicants registered on our website and some 86,000 are already eligible for citizenship. I think that is the biggest achievement in terms of interest in our project.
How many of them are Latin Americans?
I think around 10 or 15 percent.
Liberland is in the middle of a very dangerous place, geopolitically speaking: the Balkans, between Serbia and Croatia. Are you not afraid that a territorial claim will end the project?
It’s a very important matter. Serbia has explicitly said, after we started Liberland, that it’s not their territory and that they basically don’t mind. Croatia still wants this patch of land to belong to Serbia, which clashes a bit with what we want, but I think we can still make Croatia understand that Liberland is a much better solution.
Are Liberland’s 7,000 square kilometres enough to host all the people wanting to live there, considering the 400,000 registrations?
Well, we could try to fit them there, but I think that it’s more important to tell the world about the idea of Liberland rather than getting everyone interested to live inside its borders.
This leads us to wonder whether Liberland is a real country or if it’s simply a very attractive idea about the possibility of a country where freedom is the rule of the land?
All nations are ideas, concepts. Liberland is as real as any other country. When I talked to Croatian authorities, they told me that Liberland was just in my head, and I replied that it was the same with Croatia and other countries. Nations exist because they are in the minds of people who consider themselves their citizens. And there’s enough people who believe that Liberland is a country, and that’s a great start to establish Liberland as a nation.
Are you seeking the recognition of other countries to establish diplomatic relations?
Yes, the reason why I have visited some 50 countries so far is to establish diplomatic relations, and I’m very happy that there’s so many open-minded people in Venezuela, a nation that has a history of recognizing troubled countries around the world. It’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this tour also in Venezuela.
You are coming to one of the least free countries in the world. What would you tell Venezuelans at this point of its history?
I believe that people in general in Venezuela have good intentions, but they just don’t know how to manifest them properly. This is why Liberland was created, to serve as a good example of how a free society can be organized.
What do you think people find attractive in the concept of Liberland?
I think it’s the degree of freedom, which is diminishing all the time around the world. Taxes in Europe are as high as 60-70 percent in some countries. There are over 180,000 pages of regulations in the European Union. That’s 60 kilometers worth of pages if you place one next to the other. There is a real need for a country that is truly free.
One of Liberland’s laws prohibits any foreign debt. How would you finance infrastructure, for instance?
We don’t believe it is the role of the state to create infrastructure. The state we believe in is there to build a good framework for others to create their businesses. We are aiming to build a country where roads are built by private companies.
Is there someone living in Liberland already?
Not yet. There are many people living outside, yet close to its borders. There is of course the difficulty with diplomacy so that we can permanently settle in Liberland. There is no other obstacle in our way to establish a flourishing country. And I think this is something that neighboring nations will support one day actively.
Are there immediate plans to settle in Liberland?
Yes, that is why in April we are organizing a conference to celebrate our first year of existence. It will be just 5 kilometers away from its borders, and there will be many attendees, including politicians and professors from across the world. Then we are going to make a festival in the middle of summer, which will have at least 5,000 people. It will be a great and fun gathering of libertarian minds. There will be a point when we will be able to take control of this territory.
How did you come up with the idea of founding a new country?
For five years, I was active in politics in the Czech Republic, trying to turn it into a country more like Switzerland, more independent. I argued that being outside the European Union is better than being inside due to the number of regulations and taxes. But it seemed to me that it was very hard to change things from within the system. Despite the good PR campaigns, voters still believe that the same people should be running the country, even though they keep stealing from them.
So that I was very inefficient, and starting a new country seemed to me more efficient than trying to change Czech politics.
You were probably very young when the Czech Republic was Communist, but from the outside one has the impression that in former Communist European countries the movement of classical liberals and libertarians is stronger than in the rest of the continent. Is that correct?
I was around eight years old when communism fell, but I do remember some things.
Our party had only member in the European parliament, but when you get there you realize that movements like ours have a very small chance to change things.
In Europe there is a movement, I don’t know whether to call it libertarian, of people who would like to have more freedom. But I think the strongest movement is not in Eastern Europe but in the United Kingdom, where you can see conservatives becoming more liberty-oriented.
I think that is the place where the changes will begin. Then it will spread to Western Europe, just like the Industrial Revolution began in England and was then spread throughout the continent.
What would you tell all those who want to join the project or apply for citizenship?
I invite everyone to apply for citizenship. It’s free. We are building the biggest liberty-minded group in the world and we expect to have some 60 or 70 representative offices across the globe soon. If someone can help us somehow, not just by applying, we appreciate it and I think it will be a mutually beneficial deal.
Some people help us set the offices, others can promote the ideas of liberty in their country or advance diplomatic relations. Some people can move to Liberland in the summer and help us settle there. There are many ways to help Liberland.