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Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border, makes France smaller

CNET logo CNET 2 days ago Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
a man standing in front of a tree: "Gonna have to put things back in place," wrote the mayor of the Belgian village that gained territory. Facebook © Provided by CNET "Gonna have to put things back in place," wrote the mayor of the Belgian village that gained territory. Facebook

Franch got a little smaller, and Belgium a little bigger, thanks to an annoyed Belgian farmer. The farmer in the border village of Erquelinnes moved a stone in the path of his tractor, according to the BBC. It turned out not to be just any stone, but one marking the boundary line between the two countries. In moving it, the Belgian gave his country 7.5 more feet (2.29 meters), by taking that same amount away from France. 

a pile of dirt © Facebook

The stone has history on its side: The French-Belgian border was formalized under the 1820 Treaty of Kortrijk, and the stone was originally placed there in 1819 when the border was first laid out. The neighboring French village of Bousignies-sur-Roc suffered the shrinkage.

David Lavaux, mayor of Erquelinnes, posted a photo on Facebook of a French TV channel shooting video of the border stone.

"We moved the 1819 border," he posted. "Belgium and our municipality are enlarged; the French don't agree, obviously. Gonna have to put things back in place."

The farmer will be asked to return the stone, and if he doesn't, he could face criminal charges. In a sign of just how long it's been since a border battle, the BBC notes "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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