Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border
"He made Belgium bigger and France smaller"
A Belgian farmer has managed to get himself involved in the complex world of European geopolitics, after inadvertently redrawing the border between Belgium and France.
The farmer moved the stone marking the border between the two countries after it was annoying in his tractor's path. His actions were discovered when a local history enthusiast was walking in the forest and noticed that the stone had moved 2.29 meters into French territory.
Fear not though, a Checkpoint Charlie-style standoff has not developed on the border, with the incident met with smiles and humour on both sides of the border.
As reported by the BBC, the mayor of the Belgian village Erquelinnes, David Lavaux, told French TV channel TF1: "He made Belgium bigger and France smaller, it's not a good idea"
"I was happy, my town was bigger.
"But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc didn't agree."
Meanwhile the mayor of the neighbouring French village, Aurélie Welonek, was optimistic of avoiding a geopolitical dispute over the misdemeanour.
He said: "We should be able to avoid a new border war."
Local Belgian authorities plan to contact the farmer and ask him to return the stone to its original place. However if he decides not to then the case could end up at the Belgian foreign ministry. This would then involved a Franco-Belgian border commission being summoned, despite having been dormant since 1930.
The farmer could even face criminal charges if he decides that he doesn't want to change the border back.
Lavaux told a Belgian news website: "If he shows good will, he won't have a problem, we will settle this issue amicably."
The stone that the farmer moved dates back to 1819 when the border between Belgium and France was first marked. The border was officially established in 1820 after Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
And over 200 years later, it seems like this farmer thought it was due a change.