After fifty years of fighting over a small Arctic island, Canada and Denmark have buried the hatchet by exchanging bottles of alcohol for the last time.
Although situated between Nunavut and Greenland, Hans Island, 1.3 km2 Area was coveted by the two Nordic countries until Tuesday, when the latter decided to split it into two almost equal parts.
Canadians and Danes have been sending teams to raise flags there for decades, making sure to leave a bottle of alcohol on site as a courtesy. The tradition has remained, Canadians leave bottles of Canadian Club and Danes of schnapps.
Against the background of the war in Ukraine and the questioning of diplomatic and international legal rules, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and her Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod decided on Tuesday afternoon to end the “whiskey war”.
“We managed to come to terms [ces disputes] without criminal prosecution or international arbitration, and that sends a strong message: diplomacy and the rule of law are working,” said Minister Kofod, who was in Ottawa to formalize the deal.
“We are showing other countries how territorial disputes can be resolved,” said Minister Joly, hailing the end of “the friendliest of wars”.
The two ministers insisted the Arctic should remain a “low voltage” area in a context where climate change could heighten stakes in that region of the world.
At a cheerful press conference in Ottawa, ministers decided to surprise themselves by opting for new spirits for the recent alcoholic exchange.
Mélanie Joly offered her counterpart a bottle of Sortilège, a popular Quebec whiskey liqueur made with maple.
“We are very blessed with this decision,” said Mathieu Houle, vice president of marketing at Station 22, the producer of Sortilège. “It’s a product that represents Quebec very well because it’s a Canadian whiskey that’s aged for three years, but with the addition of a Quebec product, maple syrup.”
For his part, Jeppe Kofod offered Mme Nice bottle of Gammel Dansk, a Danish bitter made only in Denmark and particularly popular for lunch and brunch.