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Farmer moves border marker, making Belgium bigger
A farmer in Hainaut province moved the stone marker indicating the border between Belgium and France, making Belgium a couple of metres bigger. It appears that the pillar, in place for 200 years, was interfering with the farmer’s harvest.
It is unclear when the farmer in Erquelinnes, southwest of Charleroi, moved the marker (pictured), but it was recently spotted by three history buffs walking along the border. Technically the farmer has violated the Treaty of Kortrijk with the move.
Signed in 1820, the treaty officially set the border between France and what was then the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The original stone pillars are still in place, marking the border between France, Belgium and Luxembourg today.
The amateur historians noted that the marker in the Féfu forest, which straddles the border between France and Belgium, had been moved about two metres into France – just outside the fencing around the farmer’s field.
International incident averted
While the farmer’s intentions are unclear, it’s possible that the pillar was simply in his way, so he decided to move it outside of his fencing. Or perhaps moving it allowed him to extend his fencing, while still keeping it in Belgium.
“He must have used a tractor because those things weigh about 150 kilograms,” Aurélie Welonek, the mayor of the French town of Bousignies-sur-Roc (where the border marker now finds itself) told the French paper La Voix du Nord. “But it’s definitely not in the correct place compared to our documentation.”
In the meantime, the mayor of Erquelinnes has spoken to the farmer and assured Welonek, the good people of Bousignies-sur-Roc and the entire French republic that he would move the marker back where it belongs. Phew, quipped Welonek. “We should be able to prevent another border war.”
Photo: The border marker in question