It is believed that the border between France and Belgium was inadvertently redrawn by a farmer who found the 200-year-old border stone marking the dividing line in an inconvenient location for his tractor.
The French farmer could theoretically face criminal charges after expanding Belgium by moving the stone that has marked the border since Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
A local amateur historian walking in the forest near the Belgian village of Erquelinnes discovered two weeks ago that the stone dating from 1819 had been moved 2.29 meters (7.5 feet). The farmer’s perimeter fence had also been moved.
The Franco-Belgian border, which stretches over 620 km, was officially established under the Treaty of Kortrijk of 1820.
While enjoying the expansion of his town, David Lavaux, the mayor of Erquelinnes, kindly pointed out that the farmer was legally obliged to move the border stone – and that it was best not to “create a diplomatic incident ”.
“We have no interest in expanding the city or the country. He enlarged Belgium and France smaller. It’s not a good idea, ”Lavaux told French television channel TF1. “I was happy, my city was bigger. But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc did not agree.
” And [the farmer] shows good will, he will have no problem, we will settle this issue amicably, ”Lavaux added with a smile.
If the farmer does not comply, the matter could be referred to the Belgian Foreign Ministry, which may have to convene a Franco-Belgian border commission, dormant since 1930, to settle the exact delimitation of the border.
“We should be able to avoid another border war,” Aurélie Welonek, the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc, told La Voix du Nord.