Canada ends 50-year dispute with Denmark over tiny island

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Canada and Denmark formally settled an almost 50-year dispute Wednesday over a tiny uninhabited island in the arctic, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) confirmed. File Pool photo by David Swanson/UPI | License Photo

June 15 (UPI) — Canada and Denmark formally settled a territorial dispute between the two countries that has persisted for almost 50 years, the two governments announced Wednesday.

The dispute centers around tiny Hans Island, which straddles a maritime boundary shared by both countries.

The small uninhabited outcrop lies between the two countries in the Kennedy Channel, which separates Canada’s ​​Ellesmere Island from northern Greenland.

Ownership of Hans Island has been disputed since 1973, when Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark signed a treaty that established a dividing line in the area between Greenland and Canada as far as, but not including, the Lincoln Sea.

The dispute was later dubbed the “whiskey war,” after a government minister buried a bottle of the country’s Danish schnapps at the base of a flagpole in 1984.

Canadian military troops later responded by planting a bottle of their own brandy.

The island is being divided between the Canadian territory of Nunavut and the Danish constituent country of Greenland.

“The Arctic is a beacon for international cooperation, where the rule of law prevails. As global security is being threatened, it’s more important than ever for democracies like Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark to work together alongside Indigenous peoples, to resolve our differences in accordance with international law,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement.

“This truly is a historic day,” said Denmark Foreign Affairs Minister Jeppe Kofod, who is currently visiting Canada on a diplomatic trip.

“We have discussed the sovereignty of Tartupaluk for more than 50 years. After intensified negotiations over the past few years, we have now reached a solution. Our efforts demonstrate our firm common commitment to resolve international disputes peacefully. I hope that our negotiation and the spirit of this agreement may inspire others. This is much needed at a time when respect for the international rules-based order is under pressure.”

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