Given that wars have been fought over international borders, one wouldn’t think you can simply… move one.
That’s exactly what happened with the border between France and Belgium a few weeks ago. A farmer, living on the Belgian side, decided he would move the ancient stone that marks the international line.
Why? Because it was in the way of his tractor. Can’t have that.
A local spotted the mistake as they were walking in the forest near the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, according to The Guardian. It’s believed the farmer inadvertently moved it 2.29 metres, along with his perimeter fence.
The 200-year-old stone has marked the border between France and Belgium since the battle of Waterloo in 1819. It was formally established under the treaty of Kortrijk.
France wants its border back
It’s a small change but, theoretically, the farmer could still face criminal charges over this.
The mayor of Erquelinnes, David Lavaux, told French TV channel TF1:
“We have no interest in expanding the town, or the country. He made Belgium bigger and France smaller. It’s not a good idea. I was happy, my town was bigger. But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc didn’t agree.”
Lavaux hoped that the farmer would be complicit with restoring the border to its agreed limits.
“If [the farmer] shows goodwill, he won’t have a problem, we will settle this issue amicably,” he said.
If the man refuses the case could be escalated. The BBC reports that the next steps would involve taking the issue to the Belgian foreign ministry. The Franco-Belgian border commission would then have to be summoned, something which hasn’t been done since 1930.
Despite this, parties on both sides of the border have met the situation with good humour and don’t seem too interested in fighting over the situation.
“We should be able to avoid a new border war,” Aurélie Welonek, the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc, told La Voix du Nord.