The Friendliest War

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Canada and Denmark resolved a decades-long border dispute this week over a tiny island between a Canadian territory and Greenland, as leaders of both countries emphasized their commitment to peaceful negotiation in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Politico reported.

The two countries agreed to share ownership of Hans Island, a 0.5-square-mile rock situated halfway between Canada’s Nunavut and Greenland – which is part of Denmark.

Since 1973, the mound of rock had been the focal point of a lighthearted dispute between Canada and Denmark, after they established a border through the Nares Strait between Ellesmere Island and Greenland but failed to reach an agreement about the uninhabited outcrop.

The issue was labeled the “Whisky War,” after military ships from both sides would visit the island and plant spirits – Canadian whisky and Danish schnapps – to mark their territory. In a symbolic gesture, both countries exchanged bottles of liquor during this week’s ceremony.

Although described as “the friendliest of all wars,” both countries used Hans Island to raise public awareness for Arctic sovereignty, frequently sending soldiers or politicians to visit right before election campaigns.

Canadian and Danish leaders also used the ceremony to focus on the war in Ukraine and urge Russian President Vladimir “to make the resolution based on international law – not by the law of force but by the force of law.”

At the same time, the resolution will also preserve the freedom of movement on the island for the Inuit people, allowing them to hunt and fish, for example.

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