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Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story [nytimes.com]:
From Cyprus to Ukraine, Israel to the Balkans, conflicts over land have long turned bloody. But on Monday, the Netherlands and Belgium managed to settle a festering territorial problem [dutchnews.nl], without firing a single bullet and with an unlikely spur: a headless corpse.
In a signing ceremony attended by their respective royals, Belgium agreed to cede about 35 acres of scenic land by the Meuse River in exchange for about seven acres of land from the Netherlands. The two countries had formalized their border in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1843.
In a region that has long known geopolitical and linguistic squabbles, and where Belgium has lived in the shadow of its neighbor, the land swap was anything but inevitable. That apparently is where the headless body comes in.
The land belonging to Belgium — equivalent to about 15 soccer fields — is linked to a hard-to-reach peninsula belonging to the Netherlands. In 1961, when the Meuse was reconfigured to aid navigation, it had the side effect of pushing three pieces of land onto the wrong side of the river. According to the Dutch news media, the uninhabited area subsequently gained a reputation for lawlessness, wild parties and prostitution.
However, several years ago, when a couple accidentally stumbled on a headless body and called the Dutch authorities, they were informed that the strip of land was under Belgian jurisdiction. But the Belgian authorities could not get there by land without crossing Dutch territory, which required special permission. The only alternative was a difficult river crossing.
Referring to the discovery of the body, Jean-François Duchesne, the police commissioner of the Lower Meuse region, told The Associated Press [independent.co.uk] last year that the journey to the area had been arduous.
“So we had to go there by boat with all that was needed — the prosecutor, the legal doctor, the judicial lab — we had to do round trips over the water,” he said. “It really was not very practical.”
The two nations then decided to head off future jurisdictional problems by negotiating a peaceful exchange of parcels of land each country had that were stranded on the wrong bank of the river.
Belgium’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, said on Monday [lalibre.be] that the agreement reflected excellent Belgian-Dutch relations and was proof that “borders can be peacefully changed.”
A similar agreement gained traction over the summer in Nordic countries, but that hit a snag.
To mark the 100th anniversary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia, a group of Norwegians was urging the government to move a point on its border with Finland about 490 feet to the north and 650 feet to the east.
But that ran afoul of an article of the Norwegian Constitution that states unequivocally that the Kingdom of Norway is “indivisible and inalienable,” and the friendly gesture was called off, at least for now.