World

Farmer Moves Rock, Starting International Border Incident

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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A Belgian farmer moved a rock marking the border between his home country and France, possibly starting a border feud.

The farmer moved the rock out of the way of his tractor, placing it inside France’s borders, BBC reported Tuesday. The rock was placed in its original position in 1819, following the Napoleonic Wars, to set the current border between France and Belgium. The 1820 Treaty of Kortrjik formalized the border location. (RELATED: The Rainstorm That Saved Us From Speaking French)

“He made Belgium bigger and France smaller, it’s not a good idea,” David Lavaux, the mayor of Erquelinnes, Belgium, told the French channel TF1. “I was happy, my town was bigger. But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc didn’t agree,” he said, according to BBC.

If the farmer is unable or refuses to return the rock to its original location, the Belgian Foreign Ministry would be required by law to institute a Franco-Belgian border commission for the first time since 1930.

The Franco-Belgian border has been a flashpoint in multiple military conflicts. Germany invaded France through Belgium in both World War I and World War II. During the early 18th century War of the Spanish Succession, Austria, France, and England fought over control of the Spanish Empire, which included the Low Countries of modern-day Belgium and the Netherlands.

French and Belgian officials do not expect the moved rock to lead to a serious conflict. “We should be able to avoid a new border war,” Aurelie Welonek, the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc, said.