NATO partners Canada and Denmark have settled decades of insubstantial diplomatic disputes over a tiny, remote and uninhabitable Arctic island. Located between Ellesmere and Greenland, Hans Island, which was left out of a border agreement in 1973, is now divided. This creates the first land border between Canada and the European Union.
Hans Island in the far north between Canada and Greenland has employed 26 Canadian foreign ministers over the past half century, Canada’s chief diplomat Mélanie Joly said at a ceremony in Ottawa along with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod and Greenland Prime Minister Múte B. Egede. “I think it was the friendliest of all wars,” Joly said, “and now we have a border with the European Union.”
A bottle of Québec maple whiskey and a handwritten letter from Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly to the Kingdom of Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod seal the Canadian-Danish deal
The fact that both countries claimed the barren rock with no known raw materials as their property led to a curious ritual for a few years: With each expedition to the 1.3 square kilometer small island about 1100 kilometers south of the North Pole, the flag of the other country was removed and the own hoisted. At the same time, the other was left with a bottle of typical local schnapps: the “whisky war” was born.
This is – unmistakably – a Danish delegation that has hoisted its flag on Hans Island. Today, at the base of the flagpole, there are many remains of liquor bottles and other messages
In view of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Joly stressed the importance of peaceful settlement in a border dispute: “We know that we can work together diplomatically to resolve disputes based on rules and principles.” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Kofod added: “Diplomacy and the rule of law actually work.”
After signing the agreement, the diplomats exchanged two bottles of liquor. The arctic island of Greenland belongs to the Danish kingdom. It is largely self-governing, but the Danes are responsible for foreign and defense policy.
rb/ww (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)