A different Czech president from Miloš Zeman recently looked back at a busy 2017 and future expansion plans in Africa and the Central America for the near future. Introducing Vít Jedlička, president of the Free Republic of Liberland, the head of state of a seven kilometre square territory on the Danube river between Serbia and Croatia.
Liberland was created in April 2015 on one island and one near island on the Danube between Croatia and Serbia. They are uninhabited and prone to flooding. President Jedlička says neither of the two neighbours claim the territory. But while relations with Serbia are fairly warm, those with Croatia are antagonistic with dozens of court cases pending brought by both sides.
While officially recognised by no-one, Liberland is not daunted and has seen a growing number of applications for citizenship and actual citizens. As of December, it had 480,000 applications and 150,000 eligible citizens. President Jedlička told Radio Prague recently that applications are flooding in:
"It’s virtually all over the world. We have now got applications very evenly spread throughout the world. We have a little bit more from the Middle East. Some 100,000 people out of half a million are actually coming from the Middle East. But the interest in Liberland citizenship is evenly spread. We have almost 18,000 people coming from the United States for example."
The benefits of citizenship are not too clear, though the president says its always good to have a second passport. You don’t pay tax in Liberland with citizens asked to make donations instead. And that formula as well as the investments in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies had boosted Liberland’s state coffers to the equivalent of around 350,000 US dollars at the start of December. And Jedlička outlined other ambitious financial plans:
"We will use this money to actually launch a number of serious projects next year. One of them will be the issuance of our own cryptocurrency which we would like to have completely anonymous, yet also working as Liberland shares. It will be a fairly interesting concept, for example, for those that got into the world of cryptocurrencies. We want to be innovative in that sense."
And Liberland also has expansion plans to bring its libertarian model of government to other countries and continents. Jedlička explained the logic: "Because of this large interest, especially from the Middle East and Africa, we are considering that it would be actually healthy to bring Liberland to Africa instead of bringing all the people from the Middle East and Africa to Liberland."
In fact, plans are well advanced with the government of Somaliland, an independent if unrecognised state in East Africa, to set aside territory which Jedlička says could have something like the status of a combination of a diplomatic and free trade area. Talks have also been taking place with the government of Honduras in Central America about setting up what the Liberland president says could amount to Liberland resorts with around 90 percent autonomy from the central government.