'Whiskey wars': Denmark, Canada end 50-year border dispute over Arctic island
Denmark and Canada have decided to formally end their “light-hearted” dispute that spanned over 50 years over an uninhabited Arctic island.
Dubbed as “Whiskey wars”, the NATO allies had been squabbling over Hans Island, situated at an equal distance between Greenland and Canada's Ellesmere Island, since 1971, when the dispute first emerged at a bilateral meeting to discuss territorial boundaries.
It was dubbed as “Whisky War” due to military ships visiting the island and planting flags and bottles of Canadian whiskey or Danish schnapps to mark their territory.
Under the new agreement, both countries will hold a joint possession of the 1.2-square-kilometre mound of rock. The new border will divide the island roughly in half, following a natural ravine from north to south.
“We’re setting a precedent. We’re showing to other countries how territorial disputes can be solved,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said after a signing ceremony in Ottawa.
“It is possible to settle a disagreement, and it’s always the best way to do it through principles and norms that both parties recognise.”
“I think it was the friendliest of all wars,” Joly said, joking that she hopes Canada will now be able to participate in the Eurovision song contest due to its land border with Europe.
Joly and her Danish counterpart Minister Jeppe Kofod exchanged bottles of liquor at the ceremony marking the tradition, Politico reported.
The agreement will preserve freedom of movement on the island for Inuit Arctic people, for hunting, fishing and other activities.
The deal will be signed once both countries grant parliamentary approval and will see the island split along a naturally occurring cleft on the rocky outcrop, according to a deal published by the Danish foreign ministry on Tuesday.
Once signed off, Canada and Denmark will have established the world's longest maritime border at 3,882km.