In his conversation with The Telegraph's Joe Shute, founder of the world's first space state, Dr Igor Ashurbeyli talked of the steps the human race needs to take in order to survive, given any possible, even not necessarily desirable, scenarios, and how Asgardia plans to contribute to this. The interview took place in Vienna, Austria, during the First Asgardia Executive Congress
Why, in your opinion, does the world need Asgardia?
I don't think that the world needs Asgardia; the people of the world do. because we’re offering them a unique opportunity of building a free and just state that no one on the planet has ever succeeded in creating.
You lived and worked in the times of the Soviet Union, under the Soviet Government. Was it something from that experience that inspired the concept of Asgardia?
I was, of course, born in the USSR. I studied there, and I worked in Soviet space research, but this has nothing to do with Asgardia, as our main state-founding principle is to be above earthly borders, to be oblivious to them. I can safely say that my previous experience isn’t in any way connected with Asgardia. That's why I don't associate myself with any of the world's countries - be it Russia or any other state. An Asgardian can hold the citizenship of any country in the world - to me as Head of Nation, all that matters is that he or she is an Asgardian.
This is interesting… I was under the impression that your previous job gave you a lot of serious connections with the Russian leadership, and that you will take those connections to Asgardia..?
I wouldn't say we have any special connections with any countries. Besides, Russia doesn't have a strong presence in Asgardia, ranking 11 of its 105 countries. Turkey ranks 2, and nobody can explain why Turkey has taken the place between the US and Great Britain.
Then, in the future, when Asgardia becomes a reality, when your vision is brought to fulfilment, will one be able to remain, say, a British citizen, but live in Asgardia?
To begin with, saying “when Asgardia becomes a reality” is incorrect, because Asgardia is already a reality! And, if course, in the legal sense, citizens of any of the world's countries may also hold Asgardian citizenship. This isn't an issue. The issue, however, is that while some countries allow dual citizenship, others strictly forbid it. Therefore, we will sign a bilateral agreement with each individual country to regulate this. We make it clear that Asgardian citizenship in itself is in no contradiction with the citizenship of any other country, and cannot be a violation in countries that don't allow dual citizenship. However, this will be, in every individual case, decided via international agreements or by the international court. In any case, Asgardia hasn't yet received official recognition as a state, but tomorrow, I hope, the Parliament will vote in favour of appointing an International Affairs Minister, which means that the day after tomorrow we will start the negotiations we have been unable to proceed with until now as your governmental executive bodies hadn't been fully formed.
When do you expect UN to recognize Asgardia as a country?
First and foremost, this Congress is to tell the world that we have completed the formation of all our executive branches, which was our first step.The second step will be signing five agreements with any five UN member states recognising Asgardia as a country.
How many such member states have you found?
As of now, we have only had informal negotiations. Formal negotiations are an exclusive prerogative of the International Affairs Ministry.
The United Kingdom is exiting the EU. Is Great Britain a priority for Asgardia in international relations?
Great Britain is important for Asgardia as it ranks third by the number of Asgardians among our member countries. Secondly, London is my number one favourite city in the world. It’s another issue, however, that, as we intend to start with countries. Cyprus takes the next position. Great Britain is too big, and I think we will turn to them after we have collected the five bilateral agreements and have sent our application to the UN.
A few weeks ago you were in London where you met HRH Prince Michael of Kent. Can you share a bit about this meeting and your discussion of Asgardia? What did he have to say on its account?
We had a long meeting at his library in Kensington Palace, and yes, we spent a lot of time talking about Asgardia. In particular, we discussed the possibility of creating a royal council of Asgardia, since earthly governments have already shown that they cannot cope with their ambitions and contradictions, but there are still 29 royal dynasties on Earth, not only in Europe, but also in Africa and Asia . All of these monarchies are different, but what matters is that they are all kingdoms. Who if not the people who can rely on the antiquity of their roots and lead lives that aren't too mercantile and materialistic, should unite among themselves, and unite the nations of the world? These people are not so bogged down in politics, so the idea of creating such a royal council seemed right to me.
You consider yourself a monarch. Can Asgardia to be considered a monarchy?
According to our constitution, Asgardia is a constitutional monarchy. But last year I had an inauguration, not a coronation. We are not in a hurry with this. At present, my term of office is limited to 5 years. By our constitution, the Asgardian Head of Nation may be rightfully considered of the same position as the leader of the country he is negotiating with. Therefore, with a president I am a president, with a dictator, I too am a dictator, and with a king, I am a king.
How do you view the perspective of Asgardia becoming the kind of dictatorship alread known on Earth? Are you not concerned?
This is not possible in Asgardia as all dictators use coups d’Etat and force; we are a digital state. We talk about being different from earthly countries by not having prisons, slavery or death penalty.
What would happen if, after settlements on the Moon have been built, a man living there, for instance, killed his wife?
In Asgardia at present the extreme measure of punishment is erasing his personal data - and let him live happily ever after in his Earthly residence. If a person, however, is guilty of criminal offense, that’s within the jurisdiction of the country on whose territory the crime has been committed. He can’t commit the crime in Asgardia as we don’t have a jurisdiction of our own. If that happens on the Moon, the Moon is not in Asgardia’s jurisdiction either - and it’s, in fact, nobody’s. This was one of the subjects discussed at the conference on space legislation. The choice of legislation to be used if someone working on the ISS kills one of their colleagues is still an open question.
What is lacking in space legislation? What new suggestions are needed today?
Donald Trump put an end to space legislation a month ago by stating that international legislation is nothing to him, and that he, therefore, will do in space whatever he pleases.
Do you think this was a violation of the agreement?
Not a violation… a complete abhorrence! As a result, we now have a WildWest-like space jungle with its rule of thumb principle. And we will see space cowboys shooting in space saloons.
Since you don’t have an Army of your own, how do you plan to survive in this jungle?
The Asgardian constitution foresees the creation of a space fleet, but its chief goals are self-defense and protection of the Earth from space hazards. But the main principle is that Asgardia can have no armament on Earth, or in Earth's atmosphere. There can be no compromise in this. Thus, if such a fleet is created, it will be aimed at repelling external threats from space. We will never be involved in any conflict on Earth. Because we do not look at all in this direction.
Who will pay, and is already paying, for all this?
Until last November, Asgardia was completely financed by my holding. Since November, the Parliament decided on an annual EUR 100 residential fee. I hope that tomorrow the EUR 1000 fee for Citizen's Certificate will be approved. This year we will hold an investment and science conference with subsequent passing of the investment law. Today we have presented Asgardia's new state website that will provide public services and digital services, bringing additional revenue to the budget. In October, at the celebration of Asgardia's third anniversary, the Parliament will review the question of the national currency, the SOLAR, whose launch will complete the formation of the Asgadria's economic system. Therefore, we expect that 2020 will be the first year when the budget of Asgardia will be balanced, no longer requiring private investments.
When will Asgardians finally have the opportunity of living in space?
This is not about the life of Asgardians in space per se; we aren't like Elon Musk who intends to take 1,000,000 people to Mars. Asgardia's main mission is to ensure the continuation of the human race, and this can only be achieved through the first human birth in space. And scientists will calculate the number of humans that will live in space arks to prevent degradation through incest (therefore we don't set the purpose of resettling as many people as possible from the Earth), to make sure that humanity reproduces and is able to live outside of our planet.
Are you personally prepared for a life in space?
I am not. The purpose is to make this possible for humanity as such. Because, should a global flood or nuclear war happen - it will be the end of humanity. This is why we must give humanity a chance to survive, continue, and develop even in the event of a global catastrophe.
Let’s talk of sports. Is Asgardia planning to be represented at the Olympics, for example?
On Earth, Asgardia does plan participation in sports competitions, however, as individual sportsmen rather than teams. With our citizens residing in different countries, forming a football team, for instance, would be difficult. But individual sportsmen who hold Asgardian citizenship will be able to compete at the Olympics under the Asgardian flag.
Is there any particular sport in which Asgardia would especially wish to lead? Perhaps, chess?
You guessed it right, we would like to start with a chess competition. But we welcome all individual sports. Boxing for instance. Digital sports are gaining popularity throughout the world as well. Asgardia may organize the Earth’s first digital Olympic Games involving teams that play all kinds of digital sports - why not?
Will Asgardia allow religion?
Asgardians are free to practice any religion of their choice in their place of Earthly residence. Adgardia itself has no religion, just like it has no political parties. As a citizen of a country on Earth you are free to practice any religion; as an Asgardian, you are not religious. We believe that religions and parties cause divisions among people, which is contrary to our main founding principle of “One Unity, One Humanity.”
What will be the main industry in Asgardia, its chief source of income?
Asgardia is no different from the countries of the Earth in terms of generating income. However, we won't have any production of material goods - which is by the way is currently in decline on Earth as well, while the market of digital goods and services is growing. Everything is here (as he says this, Dr Ashurbeyli points at his smartphone), so the only difference will be that Asgardia’s products and services will be digital only, while markets specific to Earth offer physical and material goods, products, and services. In all other ways, Asgardia’s budget is similar to budgets of earthly countries.
With humans having created such a chaos on Earth, what makes you believe that they won't do the same thing in space?
The constitution and laws of Asgardia clearly state that we have no grounds for disagreement. Countries on Earth fight for territory, resources, borders, and party influence. We don't have any of that in Asgardia. Therefore, I don’t see any reasons for Asgardians to do what people on Earth are doing!
Will you have mass media? Will the media be allowed into the state?
Of course. We are an ordinary state after all, so we will have mass media, and we will have radio and TV... Instead of Eurovision, we will have Spacevision.
What rights will a person gain through acquiring a Citizen's certificate?
In every country, citizens can vote. Asgardian citizens will be able to vote in Mayors, Governors, and the entire hierarchy, including members of Parliament and Head of the Nation. But there is another way Asgardia is different from all of the Earth's countries. No country shares its income with its citizens. When a country is having hard times, its people feel it in their pockets. When a country does well, nobody knows the difference. Asgardia, however, foresees the distribution of part of the national income among its citizens. As in other countries, in Asgardia citizens will have the right to use digital goods and services, and be involved with the market. Asgardia's economy will also differ from that of earthly countries' by having an investment holding company, "NGO Asgardia." So, Asgardia is also a business.
Will this business work like any other investment company?
Of course. But, most importantly, that Asgardian citizens who have paid 1,000 euros for their certificates will be able to participate in any of these investment projects, buy shares at par, and make direct investments.
Will investments be mainly in space projects, or in Earthly projects as well?
Only in space projects. If we decide to create our own smartphone, we will, of course, develop it on Earth, however, taking space technology as our standard. We have Earth-based projects too - Space Shop, Space Cafe, Space Media.
Do you plan to develop extraction of space minerals once Asgardia has successfully established itself in space?
This is a long-term perspective that some dreamers on Earth use to get financing. I have little faith if any in such projects; this won't be technologically possible in the foreseeable future. Our 25-year programme will result in human settlements on the Moon and Moon-orbiting arks that will serve as the base for spaceships, enabling them to stay in space even up to 100 years. This, and not the extraction of minerals, is our objective. Some of the Asgardian companies can probably get involved with this, but only on market terms.
What can you say about your colleagues - Musk, Bezos, Branson - and their projects?
I like Branson and Bezos, and I take Musk with a grain of salt.
What do you mean by the "grain of salt"?
I prefer not to talk negatively of anyone.
This would be out of line with Agardian values?
It would certainly be.