Denmark sending flag to disputed Arctic island
Danish officials in a warship are on their way to plant a flag on an Arctic island near Greenland, in the latest move of a territorial dispute between Copenhagen and Ottawa.
Canadian Forces Northern Area troops raise a Canadian flag on Hans Island on July 13, 2005. (CP file photo)
Danish authorities said the crew will plant another Danish flag on the 1.3-square-kilometre Hans Island, which lies off the northwest coast of Greenland and has been claimed by both Canada and Denmark.
Danish officials said the last flag blew down.
The dispute over the island has long simmered but it was rekindled in July when Defence Minister Bill Graham landed there and erected a Canadian flag.
The Danes' latest move drew criticism on Thursday from Dan McTeague, Canada's parliamentary secretary for Foreign Affairs.
McTeague said Canada will respond by negotiating with Denmark according to a treaty signed in the 1970s.
"We'll resolve these matters diplomatically," McTeague said.
"The position of our government is that Hans Island forms a part of the sovereign territory of our nation, of Canada, and therefore ... we will defend the position."
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 kilometres 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."