‘Whisky war’ ended by Arctic nations — Analysis
Canada and Denmark finally reached an agreement about who will own the half-square-mile island at North Pole.
Canada and Denmark finally agreed to divide the Hans Island in their Arctic borders. Tuesday’s binding agreement ends a decades-long territorial dispute dubbed the “Whisky war” by the media, with about 60% of the island going to Denmark and 40% going to Canada.
Half-square mile island, uninhabited, is found in Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait 1,100km (684 miles) South of the North Pole. The channel lies between Greenland’s northwest coast and Canada’s Ellesmere Island.
When the two countries agreed in 1973 to draw a border through the strait, they put off deciding who would own the barren landmass in the middle, leading to a series of petty quarrels that came to be known as the “Whisky war” due to the bizarre manner in which the nations marked their territory.
In 1984, Denmark’s minister of Greenland affairs kicked off the tradition by raising a Danish flag on the island and burying a bottle of Danish schnapps at its base, accompanied by a note reading “Welcoming to Denmark.”
Canada did the same and planted its flag on top of a Canadian brandy bottle. The two countries went back and forth, leaving flags and bottles as they pleased until this year, when they decided the time had come to send “It is important to note that wars and unrest are rampant in the world..”
“It sends a clear signal that it is possible to resolve border disputes… in a pragmatic and peaceful way, where all parties become winners,” said Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.
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Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly agreed, noting that “when you look at what’s going on in the world right now,” referring specifically to the conflict in Ukraine, “To ensure we found a solution, we wanted to increase our momentum and renew energy..”
The two countries’ foreign ministers will exchange bottles of their respective liquors for the last time on Tuesday, officially concluding what Joly called “This war is the most friendly of all.”
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