In the Arctic, Canada and Denmark agree to share Hans Island.

“A territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada over a barren, uninhabited rock in the Arctic, which led to decades of friendly friction, has come to an end,” reported on June 14 the Globe and Mail canadian.

The Canadian and Danish Foreign Ministers, Mélanie Joly and Jeppe Kofod, formally signed in Ottawa the agreement to separate Hans Island, a 1.3 square kilometer territory located between Greenland, belonging to Denmark, and the Canadian Ellesmere Island in the Arctic. As indicated by the CBC,a border separating the countries will follow a fault that runs from north to south on the island”. The new demarcation, which will represent the first land border between Canada and the European Union, “put an end, Write the National Post, to one of the most passive aggressive border conflicts in history”, which had lasted forty-nine years.

In the Arctic, Canada and Denmark agree to share Hans Island.

During “good-natured press conference”, describe The Journal of Quebec, the two ministers exchanged spirits “for the very last alcoholic exchange” about this piece of land. A reference to the nickname “whiskey war” given to this conflict by the international press.

The dispute over Hans Island began in 1973, recalls the Globe and Mailwhen Canada and Denmark attempted to establish a maritime boundary through the Nares Strait Waterway. “But they couldn’t agree on which country would have sovereignty over Hans Island, which is about 1,100 kilometers from the North Pole.”.

In the decades that followed, recalls the Danish version of the site The Local, “Danes and Canadians visited the rock by helicopter to claim it, leading to diplomatic protests, online campaigns and even a Canadian call for a boycott of Danish pastries.”

Flag and schnapps

These visits were however not very bellicose, continues the site:

“Each side would plant a flag and leave behind a bottle of whiskey or schnapps for the other to enjoy, along with comedic notes.”

On the occasion of their joint press conference, the two heads of diplomacy made statements aimed at Russia, in the context of the war in Ukraine, reports The Journal of Quebec : “’We show other countries how territorial disputes can be resolved’, launched Minister Joly, who was delighted with the end of ‘the friendliest of all wars’.

Same story with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod, who hailed “a clear signal”, quoted by CBC: “Diplomacy and the rule of law work. May this agreement inspire other countries.”

University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers said, still to the CBC, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had created “the good moment” to solve this problem once and for all.

The strategic value of the Arctic

Indeed, the Globe and Mail points out that at a time when the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway covet the Arctic, the agreement “establishes maritime boundaries around Hans Island that may grow in importance as global warming in the Northwest Passage may open the channels of Canada’s Arctic islands and shorten Europe’s journey to Far East”.

The Canadian-Danish agreement also gives aboriginal peoples access to and rights to use Hans Island, which has no mineral or petroleum resources.

Leave a Reply