Don’t you hate it when you harmlessly move a stone and accidentally end up moving an entire country’s border? One farmer unknowingly did just that.
So, some strange news is coming from Europe this week. Apparently, a farmer tired of a large stone disrupting the path of his tractor. So, as anyone would do, he climbed off the machine and moved the heavy landmark to another location. Seven and a half feet away to be exact.
Little did this farmer know, he had just shifted the Belgium and French border.
According to BBC News, a farmer from Belgium is in hot water after unknowingly “redrawing” his country’s border with France. The discovery came after a local history enthusiast went hiking in a nearby forest. While hiking, he noticed that the stone with markings etched into it sat in a different spot than usual.
For reference, here is a photo of the historical stone.
What Do Officials From France And Belgium Have To Say?
David Lavaux, the mayor of the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, wasn’t pleased with the farmer. However, he also laughed about the incident.
“He made Belgium bigger and France smaller, it’s not a good idea,” notes Lavaux. “I was happy. My town was bigger,” the Belgian mayor added with a laugh. “But the mayor of Bousignies-Sur-Roc didn’t agree.”
Luckily, the mayor of the neighboring French village, Aurélie Welonek, also found the stone’s new placement amusing.
“We should be able to avoid a new border war,” joked Welonek.
The news source also noted that the border between France and Belgium stretches 390 miles. The border was officially surveyed under the Treaty of Kortrijk. The treaty was signed in 1820, five years after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. The marker dated back to 1819, when the border was first established.
Officials in Belgium plan to inform the farmer that the stone must be moved back to its initial spot, no matter the inconvenience. If he does not comply, the issue could end up at the Belgian foreign ministry, which would have to summon a Franco-Belgian border commission. This commission hasn’t been used since 1930. Nevertheless, they’re there if anyone needs them. Additionally, the farmer could face criminal charges if he refused to put the stone back.
“If he shows goodwill, he won’t have a problem. We will settle this issue amicably,” David Lavaux told Belgian news website Sudinfo.
What started as a harmless shift for convenience’s sake ended up as an unofficial land war with a harmless farmer caught in the middle. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!