This is the kind of thing that used to start wars, but we highly doubt that this incident will come to that. A farmer who was annoyed by a historic stone marker that was in his tractor’s path moved the object 7.5 feet — unofficially making his own country of Belgium slightly bigger and neighboring France slightly smaller.
Farmers are notoriously protective of their land rights; sovereign nations tend to be, too. As you can imagine, the incident has raised some eyebrows.
First reported by the BBC, the news outlet said that the border between France and what is now Belgium was formally established under the Treaty of Kortrijk, signed in 1820 after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo five years earlier. The stone, which is between the Belgian town of Erquelinnes and the French town of Bousignies-sur-Roc, dates back to 1819, when the border was first marked out.
The relocated marker was discovered by a history buff who was walking through the forest.
“I was happy, my town was bigger,” David Lavaux, mayor of the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, told French TV channel TF1. “But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc didn’t agree.”
In reality, both mayors saw the humor in in the incident and understood that there wasn’t any real ill intent. However, that doesn’t mean a criminal case couldn’t emerge out of this.
According to British media publication the Daily Mail, the farmer will be contacted by Belgian authorities and asked to move the stone back to its original spot. If he refuses, the case could be taken to the Belgian foreign ministry and a Franco-Belgian border commission would have to be summoned.