Denmark and Canada have resolved a conflict lasting almost 50 years by establishing a land border on the disputed Hans Island.
Over the last half century, the disagreement over the island in the far north between Canada and Greenland occupied 26 Canadian foreign ministers, Ottawa’s top diplomat Melanie Joly said Tuesday at a ceremony in the Canadian capital with Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod and Greenland’s Prime Minister Mute B Egede.
The small unpopulated Hans Island was not included in a 1973 border agreement, and both countries claimed the land – a barren rock with no known raw materials – as their own.
For a few years this led to a curious ritual. When one country made an expedition to the 1.3 square-kilometre island south of the North Pole, they would remove the other country’s flag hoist their own. They would also leave a bottle of local spirits there. This became known as the whisky war.
“I think it was the friendliest of all wars,” Joly said, stressing the importance of the peaceful settlement of a border dispute in light of the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine.
“We know that we can work together through diplomacy to settle disputes based on rules and principles,” Kofod said. “Diplomacy and the rule of law actually works.”
After signing the agreement, they exchanged two bottles of liquor.
Greenland, an Arctic island, is part of the kingdom of Denmark. Though it is largely self-governing, Denmark is still responsible for its foreign and defence policies. – dpa