Belgium gets bigger after a farmer accidentally shifts border marking snipping into the French territory that has remained unchallenged for centuries.
A Belgian farmer has stirred up attention to his farm after inadvertently redrawing his country’s border with France. According to The Guardian, this discovery was made by a local history enthusiast who noticed the stone marking the boundary between both countries seemed to have shifted by 2.29m (7.5ft). The Belgian farmer was apparently annoyed by the stone that blocked the pathway of his tractor on his farm. Rather than elicit an international uproar, the incident has resulted in smiles on both sides of the border.
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Many found the incident hilarious given the farmer moved a centuries-old marker simply because it blocked his tractor’s way. This is not to mention that the farmer theoretically could face criminal charges for moving this significant marker. The stone was set in 1819 ahead of the Treaty of Kortrijk which established the 390-mile border stretching between the two countries in 1820.
David Lavaux, the mayor of Erquelinnes joked that his town just got slightly larger - but would prefer the stone gets returned. He went on to confirm, “we have no interest in expanding the town.” He went on to say, “He made Belgium bigger and France smaller.” The comments were made on a local French television station as reported by The Guardian. From the light tone of the conversation, he gave every intention that the issue will be solved “amicably.”
Aurélie Welonek, the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc gave a description of the situation pointing out how both countries “get along well” according to a comment made on CNN. She gave her understanding of the farmer's situation in regards to his farm but communicated to the farmer to put it back, failure to which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would get involved.
According to the CNN report, Lavaux said that they were verifying the farmer’s identity after which the dispute should be resolved within the week. He pointed out how “it is not very serious” and remains a source of laughter.
The extent of the shifted border post added 1,000 square meters in what would have easily been considered as an international incident. According to Lauvax’s interview on CNN, we now know that the stone originally rested close to a tree and has its year of placement inscribed onto it. The two towns are located midway on the French-Belgian border and which is 390 miles (620km). In a worst-case scenario, a Franco-Belgian border commission will have to be summoned to delimit the border.