CAIRO — There are two smiling European-looking 30-somethings waiting to welcome you to the new website, Liberland.org, while a hopeful-sounding logo proclaims, “Live and let live.”
Formerly referred to as Gornja Siga, the seven square-kilometer state (slightly larger than the Vatican and Monaco) came into existence following a border dispute between Croatia and Serbia. The forgotten territory was left unclaimed by both Croatia and Serbia, which is why it is considered to have been founded according to international law.
Obtaining citizenship is just a click away: candidates fill out an application online. The self-appointed president, Vít JedliÄka, claims on his Facebook page that the website has already received 160,000 citizenship requests, which begs the question: How many people can a country the size of a Cairo city district actually host?
"The objective of the founders of the new state is to build a country where honest people can prosper without being oppressed by governments," the fledgling tax-free country announced upon its inauguration. Neither Croatia nor Serbia have issued diplomatic statements in response.
The Liberland phenomenon has caught the attention of Egypt's Foreign Ministry, which recently warned citizens against “falling victim” to the wiles of human traffickers who aim to steal their money under the false pretenses of sending them abroad. But the warning has fallen short — dozens of citizens from Arab states have already filed applications for asylum in the new country.
JedliÄka claimed that some of the applicants have already made plans to relocate to the new “promised land,” adding that the Free Republic of Liberland would welcome around 5,000 people by the end of the week. However, according to its website, the newborn country does not accept people with a "communist, Nazi or other extremist past.”
In 1719, Liechtenstein, was declared a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire — the 160 square-kilometer state bordering Switzerland and Austria would later survive both world wars. Currently it is one of the richest worldwide. The prince of Liechtenstein is the world's sixth wealthiest monarch with an estimated fortune of $5 billion.
Liberland’s recently appointed president, speaking in an interview with Time magazine last week, hopes the new state will follow in Liechtenstein's footsteps.
Paying taxes is optional in Liberland, and no military service is expected of young citizens. But for now, the country has no airport, post office or military base. What it does have is a Facebook account — with nearly 110,000 likes.