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Canada to get new land border with Denmark as decades-long Hans Island dispute ends


The new border ends probably the most passive aggressive boundary disputes in historical past

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For the primary time in additional than 70 years, Canada is ready to share a land border with a rustic aside from the United States.

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The border in query shall be about one kilometre lengthy, and can bisect the Arctic island of Hans Island, a barren uninhabited rock halfway between Nunavut and Greenland. One facet shall be Canadian, and the opposite facet shall be beneath the management of the Kingdom of Denmark.

A senior authorities supply instructed National Post that Canada shall be celebrating the brand new border with a present of Quebec whiskey to Denmark.

The island is a whole lot of kilometres from the closest human settlement and there may be minimal proof of it ever having been utilized by Inuit. However, it would mark the one place in North America during which it will likely be attainable to cross into sovereign European territory with a single step.

The final time Canada had a non-U.S. land border was in 1949, when Newfoundland was nonetheless sovereign British territory. The former Dominion entered confederation that yr as Canada’s tenth province, successfully erasing the worldwide boundary between Quebec and Labrador.

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Canada and Denmark have been feuding over the 1.3 sq. kilometre Hans Island for almost 50 years.

Hans Island has been in Canada’s orbit since 1880, when Britain’s Arctic possessions have been formally transferred to Ottawa.

The Danes have claimed that their possession of the island dates all the best way again to the Viking colonization of Greenland. Its identify comes from Hans Hendrik, a Greenland Inuk who served as a information for U.S. and British Arctic expeditions all through the nineteenth century.

According to Denmark, their declare to Hans Island was bolstered in 1933 when the now-defunct Permanent Court of International Justice extinguished U.S. claims to the japanese Arctic and gave the Danes full sovereignty over Greenland. Since 1979, Greenland has been ruled as a semi-autonomous territory whose relationship to Copenhagen isn’t all that dissimilar from Nunavut’s relationship to Ottawa.

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While Canada and Denmark have been principally content material to maintain to their very own sides of the slender channel separating Greenland and Nunavut, within the Nineteen Seventies surveyors found that Hans Island was located instantly astride the 2 nations’ maritime boundary.

What adopted was a decades-long present of passive aggressive navy pressure. Whenever the Canadian or Danish militaries have been within the space, they’d make a degree of stopping at Hans Island, tearing down the rival nations’ flag and hoisting their very own. After each flag motion, the Canadians would go away behind a bottle of whiskey whereas the Danes would go away behind a bottle of Scandinavian aquavit.

At least one commentator has dubbed the dispute the “Friendliest War.”

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The excessive level of the battle arguably got here in 2005, when then Minister of Defence Bill Graham made a helicopter journey to the island to witness the planting of the Canadian flag and the erection of an inukshuk.

Scenes from the “Friendliest War” on Hans Island.
Scenes from the “Friendliest War” on Hans Island. Photo by Royal Danish Navy/AFP through Getty Images/File; Cpl David McCord/DND/File

The go to was dubbed an “occupation” by Denmark, which lodged an official diplomatic protest with the Government of Canada. The 2005 go to by Graham would finally compel Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to declare that it was “time to stop the flag war” and enter diplomatic negotiations with Canada. Rasmussen mentioned the spat had no place in a “modern” world.

Ottawa was reportedly hoping to unveil the brand new border on June 14 and rejoice it as a shining instance of sovereign nations resolving their border disputes peacefully. Instead, someone leaked the information early to The Globe and Mail.

The island has no recognized strategic worth or sources, however Canada has remained significantly cussed of their claims to Hans Island partly to keep away from being seen as a pushover on problems with Arctic sovereignty.

While Denmark and Canada could have peacefully resolved the Hans Island problem, they continue to be at loggerheads over a way more invaluable prize: The North Pole.

Canada stays embroiled in a years-long United Nations course of to divide up the Arctic. Thus far, Canada, Denmark and Russia have all submitted competing claims to a swath of Arctic Ocean that would come with the North Pole.

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