COPENHAGEN (Danemark) -- After decades of friendly friction, a territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark over a barren, uninhabited rock in Arctic has ended. The two countries agreed to split the small island on Tuesday.
The agreement will draw a border across Hans Island, which is approximately 1.3 km (or half-mile) in area. It lies between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Denmark's semi-autonomous Danish territory. There are no known mineral resources of value in the rock.
"It sends out a clear message that it's possible to solve border disputes... in a pragmatic, peaceful manner, where all parties become winners," stated Jeppe Kofod, Danish Foreign Minister. It was a "very important signal" that war and unrest are prevalent in the world, he said.
The territorial dispute, also known as the "whisky War" by media, resurfaced multiple times over the years.
The minister of Greenland Affairs in Denmark raised a Danish flag to the island in 1984. He also buried a bottle Danish schnapps at its base and left a note that said, "Welcome, Danish island." Canadians planted their own flag and left a Canadian bottle of brandy. In a tot-fort dispute, each country has hoisted its flags and left bottles with various spirits.
Nana Flensburg, a member of a Danish military team that stood on the cliff in 2002 to perform a flag-raising ceremony, was part of that crew. According to Politiken, she said in her diary Tuesday that there were many bottles, glasses, and other items among the stones of the cairns. Documents that provided information about past visits to the island.
After the completion of both countries' internal procedures, the agreement comes into effect. The agreement must be approved by the Danish Parliament first.
It's a win-win for Canada. It's a win to Denmark," Melanie Joly, Canadian Foreign Minister, said while referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
"We are showing other countries how territorial disputes may be solved... President Putin has been told by us that we have the best way of settling disputes."
They also traded whiskey bottles.
Both countries sent warships to the islands, but there was never any danger of a shooting war. Talks began in 2005 after both sides agreed to resolve the issue peacefully.
This agreement means that Canada will no longer be the only country to which the United States has a land border.
Joly stated, "We now have an E.U. border."
It also establishes maritime boundaries around the island, which could have increased in importance as global warming in Canada's Northwest Passage could open Canada's Arctic islands channels and reduce the journey from Europe to Asia. The Arctic is a matter of contention for the United States, Canada and Russia.
Additionally, the settlement grants rights to indigenous use of Hans island.
This report was contributed by Rob Gillies, Toronto Associated Press writer.