5-speed listening (Borders - Level 3)

Farmer accidentally moves Belgium-France border



Medium (British English)

Medium (N. American English)



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Governments, army leaders and diplomats spend months, years or even decades creating borders between countries. A farmer in Belgium did not need so long. It took him just a few minutes to change the border between Belgium and France. He made Belgium about 1,000 square meters bigger and France about 1,000 square meters smaller. How? He moved a 150-kilogram boundary stone 2.29 metres inside France. A boundary stone shows where the border between two countries or areas lies. The stone the farmer relocated was laid down in 1819 to mark the French-Belgian border. The farmer did not move the stone for political reasons. He did it to make it easier to drive his tractor around his field.

Moving the border between two countries could easily create a major diplomatic incident or even lead to war. Luckily, diplomats in Belgium and France saw the funny side of this. They avoided an international crisis in a friendly manner. The mayor of the Belgian town said: "The stone was placed there in 1819 following the defeat of Napoleon. The situation should be resolved tomorrow. We will find the person who moved the stone so we can avoid any troubles. I still have to verify who the landowner is." The mayor added: "We know exactly where the stone was before. It was right next to a tree." The mayor of the town across the border in France said: "I fully trust my Belgian counterpart, who did what was necessary."

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