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Armenia

No Saturday Night Fever, As Armenia Mulls Eurovision Blackout

It's possible that Armenians won't get the chance to check out Azerbaijan's lavish preparations for this year's Eurovision.
It's possible that Armenians won't get the chance to check out Azerbaijan's lavish preparations for this year's Eurovision.

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By Anna Barseghian and Daisy Sindelar
Say you find yourself in Armenia on May 26 and you fancy a little Saturday-night TV.

There's "TV Restaurant," a competition between local lounge singers, the "Armenians of the World" documentary series, or the comedy show "Vitamin Club," which promises to "heal everyone with healthy humor and laughter."

But the one thing that might not be on? The Eurovision Song Contest, a once-a-year musical megaspectacle that is expected to draw more than 125 million viewers worldwide as it crowns a new country the king of frothy, and often forgettable, pop.

Armenia, which first competed in Eurovision in 2006, has shown little enthusiasm for this year's contest, which is being hosted by its neighbor and nemesis, Azerbaijan.

Yerevan in March announced it was pulling out of the competition, citing a statement by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in which he referred to "the Armenians of the world" as his nation's main enemy.

The decision meant an end to the Eurovision dreams of Armenian musicians competing for the right to represent their country, including the band Dorians with their song "This is Our World."

Eurovision officials were quick to penalize Armenia for the pullout, saying it was still obligated to pay its full participation fees as well as a hefty fine.

They added that Armenia's H1 public television station, a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, must broadcast the May 26 final "live, with no interruptions," or be banned outright from next year's Eurovision contest.

Playing It Cool

The threat of exclusion from Europe's biggest party might strike fear in many countries, but Armenia is playing it cool, saying it has yet to decide whether or not it will broadcast the final.

When speaking to RFE/RL's Armenian Service late last week, the head of Armenia's delegation to Eurovision, Gohar Gasparyan, declined to comment on when a decision would be made.

"All I can say is that we'll probably show the contest," she said. "I'd like to state once again that there has been no penalty or sanction here. These are just points that we are obliged to follow. I think the winner [of this year's contest] will be a country that won't pose any further problems in terms of our participation."

Eurovision isn't the only global event that Armenia is taking a pass on.

The country also boycotted the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago, protesting a declaration adopted by the group's 28 member states that Yerevan said was biased in favor of Azerbaijan.

The declaration, which mentions the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, among other unresolved land disputes, appears to endorse the principle of territorial integrity -- a stance that suits Azerbaijan.

Armenia has long argued that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh -- who are predominantly ethnic Armenians -- should be given the right to self-determination.

Mixed Emotions

Armenians, meanwhile, appear torn about a night without Eurovision.

The Armenian singer Hayko, who represented his country at the 2007 Eurovision contest in Helsinki, said it would be "weak" of the Armenians not to show it.

"I think that it's worth showing, because regardless of where Eurovision is being held, it's still a celebration of music and is the best European song contest," he said. "As a musician, I'm very interested to see how it will look this year."

One Yerevan resident agreed, maintaining that he enjoyed watching Eurovision and hoped the broadcast would proceed.

"Yes, I would definitely watch it, even if we don't have our own person there," he said. "Eurovision is still interesting for me. Who will get what? Who will end up in what place? Which country will win the contest? That way I know where our participant will go for the next Eurovision."

One Yerevan woman claimed she had no interest in watching any event being hosted by Azerbaijan, whether it was broadcast in Armenia or not.

"Anything that's connected to Azerbaijan has nothing to do with us," she said.

If some Armenians are surviving without Eurovision, it appears Eurovision is surviving without Armenia as well.

A German DJ performing at an official Eurovision fan club meeting in Baku earlier this week was interrupted when he attempted to play Armenian music.

Such music, it was suggested, has no place in a competition that Yerevan has so roundly rejected.

"Armenia unexpectedly refused to participate in Eurovision 2012 without apologizing," said Kamran Agasy, a Eurovision spokesman. "What will our volunteers think if they suddenly hear Armenian melodies?"

Written in Prague by Daisy Sindelar, based on reporting in Yerevan by Anna Barseghian of RFE/RL's Armenian Service
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Devenci from: Ganja, Azerbaijan
May 22, 2012 22:35
RFERL get your facts straight. The death of the Armenian solider was NOT the result of an Azerbaijani sniper but a fellow Armenian soldier! This was concluded by the Armenian Defense Ministry and its all over Armenian news. If your going to report on background story make sure its not out of context!
In Response

by: Moderator
May 23, 2012 11:24
Thank you for drawing this to our attention. The article has since been amended.
In Response

by: John Harduny from: Reston, VA, USA
May 23, 2012 14:57
... oh, really? What the sniper war that takes dozens of lives every day both before or after that incident? And Azerbaijan's stubborn refusal to comply with the mediating mission's appeals to retract snipers from the front line.

by: greg from: virginia
May 23, 2012 02:40
If a group of friends invited you to a gathering that was being hosted at the home of someone who threatened you with violence on a regular basis because of a grievance they had with people related to you, and if you knew you would receive no assistance if you were subjected to verbal or physical abuse while you were there, would you still go? And if you chose not to go, was that a rejection of your friends, or of the homeowner?
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 23, 2012 06:23
Or how about if you go beat up the neighbour's kids, occupy a chunk of the neighbour's garden, continuously slander them and provoke them, but then the neighbour still graciously extends the invitation to you and promises all security guarantees. Would you be surprised or ashamed? Now think about that.
In Response

by: greg from: virginia
May 23, 2012 15:07
Since when was i the one beating up the homeowners kids? Since when was i the one occupying his garden? is what i am saying here a slander of the homeowner? if so, in what way? the people the homeowner has a grievance with may be related to me, and i remind my relations that exercising their right to self determination never justifies beating up the homeowner's kids or taking his property without compensating him - even when the homeowner has done the same thing to my relations. Yet me and everybody related to the accused is the homeowner's enemy? The concept of guilt by blood relation does not float in any modern court of law my friend. And when did the aggrieved homeowner extend an invitation to me? The friends organizing the gathering extended the invite. And i don't recall the homeowner saying that even though he'd like to kick my ass (because jeez, the people he has a gripe with are my cousins), he won't do it during the gathering my friends are organizing. Did I miss a press release after the one where the homeowner reminded the world that me and everybody with a last name ending in "ian" is his enemy?
In Response

by: Rafi
May 23, 2012 20:19
Since when? Since you decided to make a claim to a part of their garden. Since when you deported and killed hundreds of thousands from areas that you were not even interested in the first place. Since the only reason you did this to them was their ethnicity. Since you ethnically cleansed your home, even where you were not even a majority not so long time ago.
And yes, the invitation was offered and the proper security was guaranteed? If traveling there is such a bad thing then why do these sam epeople with -ian surnames visit this country every couple of month, for different events, sports, political, etc. Which one of them was killed, or had their security compromised? Or is it that because Eurovision draws more media coverage that they had decided to make a noise?
In Response

by: greg from: virginia
May 24, 2012 17:12
i see rafi. so even though i have spent my whole life on the atlantic coast of the US, i am the one killing and deporting people in Azerbaijan. That makes perfect sense to me. I guess that is why my grandmother's family was killed in ottoman turkey in 1915. Because she was personally at fault for an incident where somebody somewhere who was armenian did something bad to a turk. That's why little Anne Frank was gassed in germany in 1944, because she was personally at fault for what "world jewry" was doing to the german people. By the way, I would love to read the press release posted in the past couple months where Aliev disclaimed his speech about all Armenians being his enemy. Where is his press release specifically insuring that armenian performers were welcome and would enjoy security of themselves and their property at this month's eurovision contest, inspite of the comments he made in his speech. If you have that press release, post the link. Maybe then i can say that the Armenians withdrawing from Eurovision was gratutious and inexcusable.
In Response

by: Rafi
May 24, 2012 20:49
You does not refer to you personally as in first singular. I'm sure you understand that too. No need to bring noneexistent parallels between the Holocaust and the supposed genocide of Armenians, especially when a better comparison to Holocaust would have been a total ethnic cleansing carried out in Armenia, Karabakh and the surrounding areas.
No body cares if you change your position or not, what is apparent that claiming security threat and still sending politicians and sportsmen a few month ago to Azerbaijan takes away any credibility they might have.
In Response

by: greg from: virginia
May 25, 2012 20:28
Rafi. you go through round after round accusing me of raping and killing Azeris, then ridicule me for not understanding you didn't mean me personally. You are indulging in the same pathological thought process that the Azeri government engages in - it says when it comes to conflicts with any armenians anywhere, all armenians everywhere are collectively at fault. It's called collective guilt. It is that mechanism which i have been trying to highlight since my first comment, and you helped me demonstrate it through your responses back. That same mechanism of collective guilt was used by Ottoman government to eliminate the Armenians within their jurisdictions (remember, Karabagh and Armenia east of the Arax were within Russian jurisdiction at that time). Hitler used collective guilt against the jews under his jurisdiction, the Serb government against the Bosnian Muslims, Rwandan Hutu's againstTutsi's, Sudan against the people of Darfur, each subjected to atrocities justified by collective guilt. If Armenians have been traveling to Azerbaijan in the past several months without being abused and assaulted during their visits, Great! That's good news. Maybe one day the Karabagh Azeri's can go home again content to live in one of the worlds newest countries, with Armenian neighbors, enjoying equal justice and security. But everytime an Azeri politician goes to the podium and crimilizes Armenians, that germ of good will which takes ages to foster is destroyed in two seconds. You don't care whether i change my position? I didn't do it for you. I did it for me. I change my position to satisfy myself that, unlike most Azeri's i hear from these days, i have an open mind. If Armenians and Azeri's are able to travel safely back and forth between their two countries, then maybe the same "black garden" can be farmed by Azeri and Armenian neighbors without one beating the other with a bat etched with the words "collective guilt".
In Response

by: Rafi
May 26, 2012 05:23
There's no need to bring in a straw man, and make me say what I haven't said. It certainly doesn't work. No one can assign guilt by association. No Armenian is personally and singularly guilty for what other Armenians have done, the same is true for the Azerbaijanis, Turks, etc.
But when one defends the actions of groups, those actions be justifiable, benevolent or criminal, does not matter, they associate themselves with the group.
And if we return to the original issue, I'm glad to know that you understand that this issue of non-participation is not because of security threats.
In Response

by: John Harduny from: Reston, VA, USA
May 23, 2012 14:54
Azerbaijan's "winning" of the Eurovision contest most likely is a disgusting case of corruption. Right people paid right amounts of money. That's where the international attention shall be drawn toward.
In Response

by: Bedir Memmedli from: Washington, USA
May 23, 2012 21:32
John:

Please see my proverb above about the cat (not sure if I was successful enough to translate, but I am sure you will get my point). Anyway, to be honest without hiding anything, I am really glad that Armenia's "boycott" (due to the death of its soldier killed by his own comrade not Azeris, something now happens every day) only hurt itself. It isolated Armenia further. This is what I want see -- the more you suffer, the better I feel as long as you continue holding my lands under occupation. I hope one day your home country, the country that I am sure you don't even want to live in but would love to support from the comfort of your house in the U.S., will learn a lesson. By the way, did you hear the recent statement issued by NATO on the support of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
May 23, 2012 13:35
"Armenia Mulls Eurovision Blackout". Could we please have the same measure applied here in Austria as well? And not only this year, but as a permanent measure - the best option would be enshrining the eternal Eurovision blackout in the Constitution.
In Response

by: J from: US
May 24, 2012 00:15
Ha-ha-ha! Funny! I know what you mean.

by: Azeri from: Baku
May 23, 2012 14:57
Armenia is not missed at Eurovision. She herself chose to remain self-isolated.

by: Jason from: Canada
May 23, 2012 18:04
It is disingenuous to suggest that Armenian music, played by the German DJ, was stopped because Armenia withdrew from the contest. The music was stopped because it was Armenian, period. The hatred that we see coming from the highest official circles has fanned a mass hysteria and outpour of hatred from all corners of Azerbaijan.

The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyevm declaring that "Armenians of the world are Azerbaijan's number one enemy" goes a long way in fanning such hatred.
In Response

by: Rafi
May 23, 2012 20:22
Right, and the president of Armenia is not exactly extending an olive branch when he proposes fascist ideas like Azerbaijanis and Armenians can't live together, or when he rationalizes and inadvertently admits the massacre of hundreds of civilians.
In Response

by: elnur from: texas
May 24, 2012 06:07
Dear Jason,

When Armenian armed forces raped, killed and burned their way through 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, ethnically cleansing its 650,000 Azeri inhabitants, let the poor Azeris at least hate you. If I had to chose I would chose hating to raping, killing and ethnically cleansing. This said, I personally don't hate Armenians, and I don't think there are many who hate Armenians. What we hate is your behavior. And by the way, this is very different from Armenian perception of Azeris; Armenians hate Azeris because of who they are. There are quite some studies on this. And only if you visit social forums and read the comments of Azeris and Armenians it becomes clear. Please wake up.
In Response

by: greg from: virginia
May 24, 2012 17:24
Elnur, i have spent a bit of time in Armenia and met those people. I have listened to what they have to say about Azerbaijan and Azeri's. You know what? If i removed and replaced the word "Azerbaijan and Azeri's" with "Armenia and Armenians" in the course of those conversations, i would not be able to tell the difference between the comment coming from the Armenian and the comment coming from the Azeri. It takes two to tango Elnur. So when you make your comments about all the crap Armenians visited on Azerbaijan, be sure you include the misery the Baku government visited upon the people of Nagorno Karabagh. Otherwise you are participating in the same game you so virulently condemn.

by: Nazim
May 23, 2012 20:52
Jason from Canada, give us one reason why there shouldn't be hatred towards Armenians. Yes, hatred is there, and it is natural. Of course, Azeris hate Armenians. Why should they love them? Armenia launched aggression against another nation, occupied its territory and perpetrated genocide against the civilians and nowadays she even denies it, says as if Azeris were killing their own people. So, should Azeris love Armenia for this? Yes, there is hatred just like there was hatred towards the Third Reich.
And yes, Ilham Aliyev did say those words, and they are natural as well. Of course, the two nations are enemies. What did you expect? And whom are you going to impress here, man? There is an unfinished war out there, for God sake. How can the two nations be "friends"? If course, they are enemies. And Ilham Aliyev said the truth. As if Armenians do not hate Azeris and Turks.
Yet, I should remind you that your president, Mr, Robert Kocharyan, said that "Armenians and Azeris are ethnically, genetically incompatible". And what is this? This reminds us the Goebbels speeches back in the 1930-40s in Nazi Germany.
Think it that way, dude.

by: Bedir Memmedli from: Washington, DC
May 23, 2012 21:21
No surprise at all! Why should the Armenian government allow its citizens watch this show? The reason is very simple - the Armenian government doesn't want its citizens to see all the achievements, whether it is economical or cultural, made by Azerbaijan after its boycott attempt that wasn't supported by any participant failed. Speaking of boycott, as always, it was only Iran that supported Armenia. This reminds me an old Azeri proverb - when a cat can't bite a meat, it gives up by saying the meat is rotten.

by: DT from: Baku
May 24, 2012 06:10
As usual, there are lot of armenians on this site and a lot of lies.
Lie n1 - claim that Armenian music was played . I am watching all programs about Eurovisions and nobody played any armenian musik. If you refer to some Azerbaijai music, which Armenians try to steel from us and call it armenian (like for ex Sari gelin), then I would simply advise you to get real and and create finally your own music. Stealing is disgusting and sooner or later all your frauds and allegations will be announced.
In Response

by: N
May 24, 2012 15:11
Go and enjoy your sole opportunity to stand out among other states. (i. e. the fact that the contest is held in Baku). Engage yourselves with these kind of things.

We know very well how to deal with the rest. We know how to protect and live with our compatriots in OUR land ARCAKH (NK as you call it). You can relax!))))

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