Taxes are optional in tiny new 'country'

PRAGUE - The world's latest contender for statehood, Liberland, is a tiny self-proclaimed country sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia that lives up to its "live and let live" motto by offering optional taxes, its President said on Monday.

"The key idea is voluntary taxes, creating a state so small that there's almost no state," Vit Jedlicka, a 31-year-old Czech politician from the liberal right-wing Free Citizens Party, told Agence France-Presse.

To make his dream come true, Mr Jedlicka used 7 sq km of no-man's land by the Danube river between Serbia and Croatia to create Liberland on April 13.

While Croatia is a European Union member, Serbia is not.

"Croatia claims that the territory is Serbian, but Serbia doesn't want it and this situation has lasted for 24 years," Mr Jedlicka said of the new country, located some 160km north-west of the Serbian capital Belgrade.

"The land is now ours," he said.

All Mr Jedlicka had to do to claim possession of the land was make a declaration, which has now become part of a package that Liberland is sending out to foreign ministries worldwide.

The politicians of this "constitutional republic with direct democracy features" will now have to negotiate free movement of goods and people across the border and other economic issues, Mr Jedlicka said.

He claims someone has already offered to invest in Liberland's telecommunications infrastructure.

Solar panels will ensure energy self-sufficiency, though "it would be nice to have cross-border electrical wires", Mr Jedlicka added. Interest in the novel project is huge, with its website ( registering over 1.3 million visits.

"This goes hand in hand with a huge interest in citizenship. We've received about 250,000 applications for citizenship in the past four days," Mr Jedlicka said, adding that even diplomats worldwide are curious.

"I think we'll have a million (applications) by the end of the week."

Liberland's website says anyone wanting to acquire citizenship must respect other people and their views, respect private property, have no criminal record and have no record as communists, Nazis or other extremists.