Disclaimer: This is an edited copy of the interview President Jedlička gave to Claudio Grass of Global Gold in January 2016. You will find here many important answers on Liberland’s plans and it’s future country structure. Only grammar changes were made; the context remains the same.
Claudio Grass, Global Gold: Vit, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to talk to you. Can you tell us when you first envisioned the idea of creating Liberland? Could you explain what moved you to take this step?
Vít Jedlička: Most people that come to this world wonder how they can make it better. I was no exception. When I started to understand it at the age of six, we had the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic. Lots of things dramatically changed for the better. At age 13, I read “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat. This book motivated me to get politically involved and to stand up for economic freedom. I spent the last five years campaigning in the Czech Republic for lower taxes and less regulation. Our Libertarian party now even has one member in the European Parliament, but to me this simply is not enough. Libertarian and free market concepts are often dismissed, because it’s said “they don’t work in the real world”. I created Liberland as an example of how these concepts can be implemented in reality.
Global Gold: What would you consider core values that Liberland is built upon?
Vít Jedlička: Liberland is a model of how a minarchist state with classical liberal values should look like. We truly believe that governments do more harm than good when they meddle into people’s affairs. In my view, the state should be severely limited to its proper role, which is diplomacy, security and justice. Even so-called free market countries such as Switzerland or Singapore have evolved into organisms that are extremely over-regulated.
Global Gold: What would you say to someone declaring Liberland is nothing more than a PR-stunt for yourself and your political party in the Czech Republic? How high do you think the chances are that in ten years Liberland will have a population, a running state and be accepted by the international community?
Vít Jedlička: Liberland was never a PR-stunt. Despite its size, we have every intention of turning Liberland into a prosperous free market-oriented country with a solid rule of law. Obviously, I know that this will not happen overnight. We currently have almost 400,000 people interested in citizenship. I have met countless applicants; they are all highly motivated and want to help build Liberland. With this starting position, I am confident that we will be able to build a completely sovereign state on libertarian values in the long-term. Recent CIA report on us said the chances of Liberland gaining statehood are “higher than zero”. I believe that Liberland is the best chance we have in this century to set up a truly libertarian state. The best way of predicting the future is to actively shape it, so that is my goal with the project in the coming years. Regarding international acceptance, I am confident that we are on the right track: Liberland is already widely recognized by the diplomatic community and we are in discussions with many governments regarding its official endorsement.
Global Gold: The papers have described Liberland as anti-EU. You’ve established relations with the Swiss SVP and with Nigel Farage from the UKIP party. Can you tell us your main points of criticism regarding the EU?
Vít Jedlička: We do not want to fight against anybody nor are we against anybody. We “only” want to set a good example for how a free society should function. Describing Liberland as “anti-EU” is incorrect. However, in many ways our ideas are incopatible with large bureaucratic bodies that set minimum taxes and tend to over-regulate. I am sympathetic with some of the Swiss SVP and UKIP policies. Although we’re not against Brussels, we are offering a feasible alternative. We are aware of the fact that whenever new taxes are introduced and harmful regulations are passed in the EU, that it will lead to more citizenship applications for us.
Global Gold: How many citizenship applications have you received so far? Could you explain to us the criteria of an eligible citizen? In other words, how do you ‘filter’ your citizenship applications?
Vít Jedlička: So far we have exactly 405,467 people who registered on our website, from these applications 90,315 are eligible for citizenship. People are qualified if they don’t have a communist or extremist history, share our national ideology which embraces freedom, and they are actively willing to help us get the country up and running.
Global Gold: As you mention communists, Nazis and other “extremists” are not eligible for citizenship. Would you prohibit or restrict these communities by law if they develop over time? How will you be sure that this law won’t be misused to get rid of government critics by calling them “extremists”?
Vít Jedlička: Legislation can always be misused and we took that into consideration when drafting the constitution. There are now several safety mechanisms in place. For example: It is extremely difficult to change it, because this requires a unanimous decision by the assembly. Thanks to that, we hope the spirit of the republic will last much longer than in the US.
Global Gold: What kind of people and companies do you think will call Liberland home? Are you targeting specific sectors or industries to re-domicile in Liberland?
Vít Jedlička: Several sectors have already voiced their interest. Most inquiries we received so far were from IT companies and financial institutions. Due to the absolute freedom of speech that we offer in Liberland, several media companies are interested in registering there.
Global Gold: As a libertarian, you are likely to have views considered “radical” amongst non-libertarians, such as ideas on drug laws or arms trafficking. But Liberland is not an “island” in Europe, so it is likely that some restrictions will be introduced for the international community to take Liberland seriously. As the President, how do you define what’s allowed and what not? What rules will there be?
Vít Jedlička: That is not an easy question. We will find the right balance between international norms and our own ideology. Of course we will have to make compromises every now and then. We have no intention of making Liberland a place for drug and weapon trafficking. Likewise, although we strongly oppose the overregulation of the financial industry, we will have anti-money laundering laws, so that Liberland won’t be a money-laundering hub. Doing otherwise would hurt our international reputation.
Global Gold: Croatian and Serbian legal experts claim that, under international law, you have no right to claim this land. Which laws are they basing their assessment on, and which laws do you refer to when claiming that you can?
Vít Jedlička: I also noticed the media referred to some experts. They were never mentioned by name, and I never heard any of their arguments. Liberland was formed on what was formerly known as Gorna Siga. This area was terra nullius, meaning that no other country claimed sovereignty over it. We claimed it and declared a new state, which was absolutely legal under international law.
Global Gold: You, your staff and supporters of Liberland were detained by police when trying to reach it. How did the authorities justify this? Will there be a legal challenge from your side? Is it currently possible to visit Liberland?
Vít Jedlička: The court of higher instance remanded a case for another round of appeal to a lower court. We see this as a big victory, since Croatia’s own legal system is starting to recognize that if Croatian police prevents people from entering Liberland, they are operating out of their jurisdiction. We now found ways to enter the country without any harassment. We are currently organizing everything so we can settle close to Liberland permanently during this spring.
Global Gold: How will you protect the borders against harassment, or even worse, aggression? Which institution will you resort to if your disputes with your neighbors escalate?
Vít Jedlička: We are in the middle of negotiations with a large private security agency that will take active steps to secure our borders in the near future. It is a vital aspect for our success, and we will help Croatia establish the borderline.
Global Gold: Could you tell us what your short-term, mid-term, and longer-term plans for Liberland are? What are you highest priorities? When do you expect to hold first elections?
Vít Jedlička: Our first priority is the architectural competition. We want to show the world how we will develop this area to the benefit of all parties, and I hope this activates investors in our community. We are also very active in diplomacy. – I already met couple heads of states. There is now large support in EU Parliament and couple of backers in US Congress and Senate. Just in the last two days, I have met with six ambassadors in Prague. We are organizing a presentation for them next week to explain Liberland and what we are planning. International recognition would be helpful, but having good relations with Croatia is more of a priority. I am very happy about the new government in Croatia, as it is much more liberty oriented, with many free market supporters. Another milestone for Liberland is the proper organization of our nation. I am announcing the members of the new government this week and at the same time, we are developing an application for the people to communicate with me and them easily. Our long-term plan is, of course, to build the most libertarian and prosperous country in the world.
Global Gold: How would you describe Liberland’s economic roadmap and the role of the government in the market?
Vít Jedlička: The government’s role should be exclusively limited to security, diplomacy and justice. We want to go even further and leave parts of these functions to the private sector. I believe we can outsource security with an UBER-style approach and parts of the justice system can be delegated to private courts.
Global Gold: You devised a currency called the “Merit”. Could you tell us a bit more about it? Why did you think it is necessary for Liberland to create it?
Vít Jedlička: A currency is one of the symbols of statehood. We took the best out of the cryptocurrency system and introduced a well working currency beneficial to everyone. Merits are used as a reward system for our contributors. You could describe them as a kind of “private equity currency”.
Global Gold: As a Global Gold representative, I am also interested to learn your thoughts about gold.
Vít Jedlička: I have been a gold bug since 2003, when I wrote my thesis on foreign reserve systems. I even organized a Gold Initiative for the Czech Republic (zlatainiciativa.cz) very shortly before I started Liberland. Lukas Reimann, the Swiss SVP politician, was the key-note speaker at one of our conferences. Now, he’s a Liberland supporter. The Czech central bank faces similar challenges to the Swiss central bank, as it has accumulated large amounts of foreign reserves. In my country, the central bank currently holds only 0.8% percent reserves in gold, which is a shame.