At first glance, it seems like a Saturday Night Live sketch. But, this diplomatic conflict could have been something very serious under different circumstances and involving different countries. Falklands War also known as “Guerra de las Malvinas” comes to mind.
Canada and Denmark agreed in 1973 to create a border through Nares Strait, halfway between Greenland, a semi-autonomous Danish territory, and Canada’s Ellesmere Island. But they were unable to agree which country would have sovereignty over Hans Island , which lies about 1,100 kilometers south of the North Pole, and various other Arctic islands in the area. In the end, they decided to work out the question of ownership later.
The decision has caused friction more than once. In 1984, Denmark’s minister of Greenland affairs raised a Danish flag on the island. He then buried a bottle of brandy at the base of the flagpole and left a note saying "Welcome to the Danish island."
OTTAWA, July 23 (UPI) – A longstanding dispute between Canada and Denmark over a tiny arctic island deepened this week when Canada’s defense minister set foot on Hans Island.
Bill Graham took the steps onto the island Wednesday in a symbolic move to help stake Canada’s claim to the area when and if the dispute comes to a head, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Saturday. The newspaper said Canadian military personnel a week earlier had landed on the island that’s only slightly larger than a football field. They planted a Canadian flag and built an Inuit stone marker.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, July 25 (UPI) – A decades-long border dispute between Denmark and Canada has flared up after Ottawa’s Defense minister paid a secret visit to a small island north of Greenland.
After his visit to the island, Minister of Defense Bill Graham said Canada had always regarded it as part of Canadian territory. This remark has caused a stir in Copenhagen, which administers Greenland’s foreign policy.
Aug 5, 2005, 12:13
The CBC is reporting that a Danish warship is sailing toward the tiny Arctic island between Canada and Denmark that is the subject of a territorial ownership dispute between those two countries.
Aug. 9 2005 3:33
HALIFAX — The Canadian navy will be showing the flag in the far North this summer, but nowhere near an island at the centre of an international dispute with Denmark.
Defence critics say the voyage of Halifax-based HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan is a missed opportunity to demonstrate sovereignty and reinforce Canada’s claim to Hans Island, a barren, oval-shaped rock that is often dwarfed by neighboring icebergs off northwestern Greenland.
16 august 2005 09:58
A Danish navy ship on a routine visit to the region had planned to drop men ashore on Hans Island to replace the torn flag, but Møller said in the column in the Berlingske Tidende newspaper “we will not set foot on Hans Island.”
Møller also said he and Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew intend to discuss the dispute over Hans Island next month on the sidelines of a foreign ministers gathering at the United Nations.
“Denmark does not want to derail talks in advance by getting into a ‘flag war’,” Møller wrote, adding that “the only way forward is dialogue and talks.”
Ok. They will split the island. Almost like Cyprus ?
I wonder if both countries will request a UN peacekeeping force to monitor that piece of rock.
And this was my contribution to RPGC educational curriculum – Introduction to Geopolitics