I am an American and proud to be born in the land of the free. It’s not a citizenship I would ever relinquish. What if a new country came along that followed many of the same principles established more than 240 years ago in the U.S. Constitution? A new nation is taking shape in eastern Europe and it just might be one of the greatest experiments in democracy ever attempted.
When I heard about the Republic of Liberland being declared on April 13, 2015, at first I was very skeptical. In fact, I really thought it was some kind of joke. The idea of a small microstate of three square miles (seven square kilometers) rising from the banks of the Danube River in the Balkans seemed preposterous. The proposed nation would be built on an unclaimed parcel of land on the western bank of the Danube between Croatia and Serbia, sharing a land border with Croatia.
How is this possible? It comes from a principle in international law called terra nullius, a latin expression meaning “nobody’s land.” As such, the territory has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state. Since the Yugoslav Wars, a few territories went unclaimed. Neither Serbia, Croatia nor any other nation claims the land as their own.
Geographically, Liberland is possible. The Danube River, which is the only coastline of Liberland, is an international waterway with free access to the Black Sea. As for now, no one currently lives in Liberland and it is covered with forests.
Yes, Liberland will be small, but both the Vatican City and Monaco are smaller. And there is a key difference: this would be a democratic republic instead of another monarchy. According to the Montevideo Convention, Liberland is already getting close to satisfying the principles of the convention, which is commonly used to define a state.
You may wonder who thought up this crazy experiment in building a new nation. Czech libertarian politician and activist Vít Jedlička was dismayed by high taxes and growing government in the Czech Republic. That’s when he decided to make a statement by establishing a new country. But not long afterwards, he discovered unclaimed land and actually realized that a new republic based on classic democratic principles could perhaps be created now in eastern Europe.
The official motto of Liberland is “to live and let live.” The goal of the state is to create a society where righteous people can prosper without state regulations and taxes. Politicians will be constitutionally forbidden from indebting the nation. Also, they have already published a draft constitution, which still has to be approved by the people. If you are an American, the beginning of it may sound familiar:
“We, the Citizens of the Free Republic of Liberland, in order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and future generations, do ordain and establish the Constitution of the Free Republic of Liberland, hereinafter “the Constitution”, as its supreme law, deriving its just authority from the law of nature and the consent of the governed.”
Unlike many countries that sell citizenship to the wealthy, Liberland is offering free citizenship to its pioneers. And before you laugh at this notion, more than 300,000 people from just about every continent have already applied for citizenship!
And how quickly could this happen? Well, it’s hard to say for now. However, the Liberland planning team is analyzing skills of applicants and will begin awarding citizenship soon. While living in Liberland is not required, many applicants have already submitted their skills for building the nation. Blueprints are already being developed for the city.
What are your thoughts on Liberland? Is Liberland a crazy idea or do you think it will be successful?