He only wanted to pass with his tractor, but ended up increasing the territory of Belgium by moving a 150-kilogram stone, dated 1819, that demarcated the border.
A Belgian farmer accidentally moved his country’s border with France. To move with his tractor, he moved a 150-kilogram stone in the city of Erquelinnes, and ended up increasing the territory of Belgium by 2.29 meters.
The change was discovered by a group of history buffs who roamed the region using old maps.
The border between France and Belgium extends 620 kilometers and was formally established under the Treaty of Kortrijk, signed in 1820 after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, five years earlier. The displaced stone dates from 1819, when the border was first demarcated.
“The 1819 limit has been moved, Belgium and our municipality have been increased. The French obviously do not agree, we will have to put things back in place,” joked the mayor of the Belgian city of Erquelinnes, David Lavaux, on Facebook.
Avec une équipe de tf1 à la frontière entre Bousignies et Montignies. On a bougé la borne de 1819, la Belgique et notre commune sont agrandies; les Français ne sont pas d’accord, bien évidemment. Il va falloir remettre les choses en place.
Local Belgian authorities plan to contact the farmer to ask him to return the stone to its original location. If not, the case could end at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which would have to convene a Franco-Belgian border commission, inactive since 1930.
“We must be able to prevent a new frontier war,” joked Aurélie Welonek, mayor of neighboring French village Bousignies-sur-Roc, in an interview with the local newspaper La Voix du Nord.
Lavaux, the mayor of Erquelinnes, noted that the farmer could face criminal charges if he did not comply with the request. But this is unlikely to happen.
“If he shows goodwill, he will have no problems, we will resolve the matter amicably,” the politician told Belgian news site Sudinfo.