Canada and Denmark settle ‘whiskey war’ with bottle swap

Hans Island, known as Tartupaluk in Inuktitut, has been the subject of a good-natured standoff since 1973 when Canada and Denmark established a border across Nares Strait between Hans Island. ‘Ellesmere and Greenland, but failed to agree on the uninhabited outcrop.

Since then, the dispute has been dubbed the « Whisky War », due to military ships visiting the island and planting flags and bottles of Canadian whiskey or Danish schnapps to mark their territory.

« I think it was the friendliest of all wars, » Joly said, joking that she hopes Canada can now enter the Eurovision Song Contest because of its land border with Europe. She and Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod exchanged bottles of liquor at the ceremony, a nod to tradition.

But the deal was signed against the backdrop of another war, which both sides struggled to bring to light.

« It sends a message to the world, including [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, that when there are things you are arguing about, you should take the resolution based on international law – not by force of law, but by force of law,” Kofod said.

Greenland’s premier, Múte B. Egede, called the agreement « a stepping stone to truly connecting our two countries, » but added that there should be more mobility for Inuit between Nunavut and Greenland.

The agreement will preserve freedom of movement on the island for the Inuit, for hunting, fishing and other activities.

The agreement « represents the peaceful resolution of a territorial dispute, at a time when Western countries are emphasizing the need for a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in Ukraine, Taiwan, the South China Sea, » said Michael Byers. , professor of political science at the university. University of British Columbia, interview. « It’s…a small opportunity to say and do the right thing. »

Byers said that in the past, the two countries have used the island to drum up public opinion on Arctic sovereignty – often sending visiting soldiers or ministers just before election campaigns.

But on Tuesday, Joly said it was essential to « maintain the Arctic as a region of low tension ».

« We cannot fall into the trap of militarizing the Arctic, » she said.

Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. — the legal representative of Nunavut’s Inuit for treaty rights — said she welcomed the agreement, but noted that Inuit are « a nation that transcends many international borders. »

“Arctic nations would not be Arctic nations without us, the Inuit of the Arctic,” she said.

Byers said the existence of a land border with Europe is largely a « novelty », although Arctic cruise ships can bring well-heeled tourists to visit. A government briefing paper says a « practical and workable border enforcement scheme will be established for all visitors », but gives no details.


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