(CNN) – A major diplomatic incident was avoided in Europe after a Belgian farmer accidentally moved the border with France, which increased his homeland by about 1,000 square meters. Fortunately, the local authorities saw the fun side.
The border between Belgium and France stretches for 390 miles (620 kilometers), and the stone markers that define it have been in a quiet place for more than 200 years.
One of the milestones, however, laid in 1819, shortly before the Treaty of Kortrijk signed the deal, was recently spotted as non-compliant at 2.29 meters (7.5 feet).
A farmer from the Belgian city of Erkelin is believed to have moved the annoying stone to a more convenient location without anticipating the potential for international robbery.
Erquelinnes, Belgium, is at the center of a border accident with France.
Virginie LeFour / Belgium / Sipa USA
The displaced border over the entire field of the farmer amounts to an accidental grab of land of about 1000 square meters.
“We know exactly where the stone was before, right next to a tree,” David Laveau, mayor of Erkvelin, Belgium, told CNN on Tuesday. “In 2019, during the 200th anniversary, they were geolocated very accurately.
“The stones were placed there in 1819 after the defeat of Napoleon and the year is written on them.”
Lavaux added: “It has to be resolved tomorrow, we are about to find the man who moved the stone so we can avoid any problems. I still have to check who owns the land.”
The mayor of Belgium stressed that local authorities on both sides of the border want to resolve the situation quickly and amicably.
“We laugh at this more than anything else, it’s not very serious,” he said. “We will return the border to where it belongs. Our intention was not to make Belgium bigger and France smaller!”
“Our two countries understand each other well, so there were no major concerns at the time,” she said. “I fully trust my Belgian counterpart, who has done what is necessary with the farmer. We have asked him to move the stone back and if he does not cooperate, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will get involved.”
The two cities are located approximately in the middle of the Franco-Belgian border, with Erquellines being a Walloon municipality with just under 10,000 inhabitants and Bousignies-sur-Roc, a commune in the French department of Nord with a population of around 400.