Canada and Denmark end their flag war on Hans Island

Canada and Denmark on Tuesday finally ended their decades-long “war” fought over flags, whiskey and liquor on an uninhabited desert island in the Arctic.

The two countries officially signed an agreement to partition Hans Island off northwest Greenland, creating Canada’s first land border with Europe, during a ceremony in Ottawa attended by Canada’s foreign minister and her Danish counterpart.

In a benign stalemate for 49 years, the conflict will therefore result in the kidney-shaped island being split in two and the Ottawa-Copenhagen Accord being upheld as a model for resolving territorial disputes around the world. “The Arctic serves as a beacon of international cooperation where the rule of law prevails,” Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly told AFP.

“As global security is threatened, it has never been more important for democracies like Canada and Denmark to work alongside indigenous peoples to resolve our differences in accordance with international law,” she added.

In a press conference with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, she stressed that the conflict – “which many have dubbed the ‘whisky war'” – was “the friendliest of all wars”.

For his part, Jeppe Kofod explained that the resolution of the conflict intervened at a time when “the international legal order is under pressure” and democratic values ​​are “under attack”, referring to the war in Ukraine.

“In contrast, we have shown how long-standing disputes can be resolved peacefully within the rules,” he said, adding that he hoped “to inspire other countries to follow the same path.”

Hans Island, with an area of ​​1.3 km2, lies between Ellesmere Island in northern Canada and Greenland, a Danish territory. The dispute dates back to 1973, when a maritime border was drawn between the two countries.

whiskey c. booze

Danes and Canadians have taken turns helicoptering to the island to claim the territory, prompting diplomatic protests, online campaigning and even calls for the Canadian boycott of Danish pastries.

On these visits, each side hoisted a flag and left a bottle of whiskey or liquor for the other side.

During a bottle swap on Tuesday, Mélanie Joly and Jeppe Kofod poked fun at the idea of ​​Canada joining the European Union now that the two entities share a land border.

The snow-capped island of Hans is uninhabitable, but the effects of climate change are bringing increasing shipping traffic to the Arctic, opening it up to greater exploitation of its resources, particularly fishing.

However, according to Arctic expert Michael Byers, the island is “so extraordinarily remote that it is not viable to consider serious activity there.”

Repel die sinus Any resolution of this unusual conflict has long presented a good opportunity for political backlash for all parties, especially ahead of elections. “It was a completely risk-free sovereignty dispute between two allies of theNatoregarding a tiny and insignificant island,” Michael Byers told AFP.

Denmark was also concerned that losing that Battle of Hans Island would undermine its relationship with Greenland, while Canada feared that defeat would weaken its negotiating positions with the United States in a dispute this time, more importantly, in the Beaufort Sea (northwest of Australia ). Canada), which is said to be rich in hydrocarbons.

canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau“did not make Arctic sovereignty a part of its political identity,” according to Michael Byers, which allowed it to “lower the temperature,” at least on the Canadian side.

“But more importantly, Russia invaded Ukraine and that created the opportune moment for the world to learn that the responsible countries are peacefully settling their territorial disputes,” he added.

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Andrea Hunt

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