Canada, Denmark End Whiskey War Over Island

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

OTTAWA (Worthy News) – Canada and Denmark agreed Tuesday to end their years-long “whiskey war,” fought with weapons such as bottles of alcohol and flags, over a tiny rock island in the Arctic.

The two sides signed a deal to split the 1.3-square-kilometer (0.8 miles) muffin-shaped Hans Island, effectively creating the first land border between Canada and Europe.

The island sits in the Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait between the north-western coast of the semi-autonomous Danish territory of Greenland and Canada’s Ellesmere Island.

Canada’s and Denmark’s foreign ministers inked the agreement at a ceremony in Ottawa, where an elder of the region’s Indigenous peoples said a short prayer. The uninhabited area was for centuries an Inuit hunting ground.

Tuesday’s deal ended decades of wrangling when Danes and Canadians visited the rock by helicopter to lay claim to it, leading to diplomatic protests, online campaigns, and even a Canadian call to boycott Danish pastries.

During ministerial visits, each side would plant a flag and leave behind a bottle of whiskey or schnapps for the other to enjoy, along with comical notes.


“Many have called it the whiskey war. I think it was the friendliest of all wars,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly of the territorial dispute. Her Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod noted that the two sides could peacefully end a conflict that had drawn in no less than 26 foreign ministers over the decades.

Kofod said their deal comes while “the rule-based international order is under pressure” and democratic values are under attack. “We see gross violations of international rules unfold in another part of the world,” he said, alluding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“In contrast, we have demonstrated how longstanding disputes can be resolved peacefully by playing by the rules,” Kofod stressed.

He added that he hopes Canada and Denmark’s experience will inspire other countries to follow the same path. “This sends a strong signal: diplomacy and the rule of law actually works, and that great result can be achieved by following the rules.”

The two countries, both members of the NATO military alliance, have cooperated over the war in Ukraine, including on aid programs for women and girls fleeing the conflict.

As they exchanged bottles on Tuesday, Ministers Joly and Kofod laughed off suggestions that Canada might join the EU now that the two share a land border. Joly joked that a Canadian singer would surely enter the next Eurovision Song Contest, while Kofod offered: “Welcome Canada to the European continent!”

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