Itâ€™s an international incident that is bordering on bizarre: A Belgian farmer inadvertently has increased the size of his country after moving a marker on the countryâ€™s border with France about 7.5 feet.
The unidentified farmer only intended to create more room for his tractor, but, as a result, Belgium is now a teensy bit larger than when the original border was set 101 years ago, according to the BBC.
â€œHe made Belgium bigger and France smaller. Itâ€™s not a good idea,â€ David Lavaux, mayor of the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, told the French TV channel TF1. â€œI was happy, my town was bigger, but the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc [in France] didnâ€™t agree.â€
The 390-mile border between France and Belgium was formally established in 1820 under the Treaty of Kortrijk, which was signed after Napoleonâ€™s defeat at Waterloo in 1815. The stone has the date 1819, which is when the border was first marked out, according to the BBC.
A group of Frenchmen first noticed the border was bungled last month while they were checking the markers against a map of the original locations.
One of the men, Jean-Pierre Chopin, told The New York Times they immediately suspected something was awry when they came upon the misplaced marker.
â€œAll the markers are typically placed in a very precise manner, but this one was raised up on higher ground. It just looked strange,â€ Chopin said.
A quick check of the map revealed the stone went farther into France than it should be.
â€œItâ€™s a really isolated spot,â€ Chopin said. â€œAlmost no one passes by there, so it might never have been discovered to have been moved.â€
Lavaux now plans to send a formal letter to the farmer demanding the stone be placed back where it belongs.
If that doesnâ€™t happen, the farmer could face criminal charges, but Lavaux is optimistic diplomacy will prevail.
â€œIf he shows good will, he wonâ€™t have a problem, we will settle this issue amicably,â€ he said, according to the BBC.
If no agreement is reached, Lavaux said, the matter will be turned over to Belgiumâ€™s foreign ministry which would set up a commission with France to resolve the dispute, a move the Times said wasÂ last required in 1930.
AurÃ©lie Welonek, the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc, is optimistic her country wonâ€™t have to take up arms against Belgium.
â€œWe should be able to avoid a new border war,â€ she told the French newspaper La Voix du Nord.
You can see the basics of the border battle in this French-language video below.
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