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Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border

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Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border
Aerial view of a tractor in Belgium

A farmer in Belgium has raised eyebrows after inadvertently redrawing the country's border with France.

A local history enthusiast was walking in the forest when he noticed the stone marking the boundary between the two countries had moved 2.29m (7.5ft).

The Belgian farmer, apparently annoyed by the stone in his tractor's path, had moved it inside French territory.

Instead of causing international uproar, the incident has been met with smiles on both sides of the border.

"He made Belgium bigger and France smaller, it's not a good idea," David Lavaux, mayor of the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, told French TV channel TF1. That sort of move caused a headache between private landowners, he pointed out, let alone neighbouring states.

Avec une équipe de tf1 à la frontière entre Bousignies et Montignies. On a bougé la borne de 1819, la Belgique et notre...

Posted by David Lavaux on Monday, May 3, 2021
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The border between France and Belgium, which stretches 620km (390 miles), was established under the Treaty of Kortrijk, signed in 1820 after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo five years earlier. It was marked out by stone borders which have remained in place ever since.

"I was happy, my town was bigger," the Belgian mayor added with a laugh. "But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc didn't agree."

"We should be able to avoid a new border war," the amused mayor of the neighbouring French village, Aurélie Welonek, told La Voix du Nord.

Local Belgian authorities have contacted the farmer to ask him to return the stone to its original location. If that does not happen the case could end up at the Belgian foreign ministry, which would have to summon a Franco-Belgian border commission, dormant since 1930.

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