September 19, 2005
Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew and his counterpart, Denmark’s Minister for
Foreign Affairs Per Stig Møller, met today in New York on the margins of the United
Nations General Assembly.
The two ministers discussed a wide range of issues, including climate change,
Afghanistan and the situation in the Middle East.
They also discussed the issue of the dispute surrounding Hans Island, affirming that the
issue can be resolved within the excellent bilateral relationship that Canada and
Denmark have cultivated over 60 years.
“It remains our firmly held position that Hans Island constitutes part of Canada’s
national territory,” stated Minister Pettigrew. “As longstanding allies, it is our shared
objective to lead by example and resolve this matter, which we agree is about the
island, and the island only. Minister Møller and I have agreed that our officials should
meet soon to discuss how to move toward a resolution of this issue and report back to
The ministers issued a joint statement.
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The text of the joint statement is attached.
For further information, media representatives may contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs Canada
SEPTEMBER 19, 2005, NEW YORK
We, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Pierre S. Pettigrew, and the Minister for
Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Per Stig Møller, met today, September 19, 2005, in the
margins of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, to reaffirm our excellent,
long-standing bilateral relations as friends, allies and Arctic neighbours. The Danish
Minister for Foreign Affairs was accompanied by the Deputy Premier of Greenland,
Josef Motzfeldt. Mr. Larry Bagnell, Member of Parliament for the Yukon, accompanied
Together, we reviewed many of the issues which will be addressed at this General
Assembly and on which we are close partners, including climate change, effective
multilateralism, transatlantic relations, counter-terrorism, Afghanistan, and the Middle
East. We also took note of the upcoming 60th anniversary this December of the
establishment of our diplomatic relations.
We have much in common, and we have worked together over many years in
advancing the welfare of the Arctic region and its peoples. Through the Arctic Council
and other means, we already collaborate closely on challenges facing the Arctic and the
North, such as climate change, resource extraction and transport. We also expressed
our satisfaction at the recent launch of our joint project to map the seabed of the Arctic
We acknowledge that we hold very different views on the question of the sovereignty of
Hans Island. This is a territorial dispute which has persisted since the early 1970s,
when agreement was reached on the maritime boundary between Canada and
Greenland. We underscore that this issue relates only to the island as such, and has no
impact on that agreement.
Firmly committed as we are to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including territorial
disputes, we consistently support this principle here at the United Nations, and around
the world. To this end, we will continue our efforts to reach a long-term solution to the
Hans Island dispute. Our officials will meet again in the near future to discuss ways to
resolve the matter, and will report back to Ministers on their progress.
While we pursue these efforts, we have decided that, without prejudice to our
respective legal claims, we will inform each other of activities related to Hans Island.
Likewise, all contact by either side with Hans Island will be carried out in a low key and
We will continue to pursue our common goal of ensuring the sustainable development
of the Arctic region to the benefit of all, and in the tradition of cooperation in the region
between our scientists we will explore the feasibility of joint scientific projects on or in
the area of Hans Island. Such projects might fall within the research being planned in
the context of the International Polar Year 2007-08.