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Eurovision's Nationalism

Azerbaijan's entry got a respectable third place this year
Azerbaijan's entry got a respectable third place this year
Eurovision has never been a friendly competition; it's always been beset by rivalries and petty nationalism (arguably, this is about the only thing that actually makes the competition interesting.)

But it does have an uglier side.

Blogging at Frontline, Onnik Krikorian looks at the animosity over Eurovision between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which manifested itself on Twitter:

During the televoting for tonight's final, for example, one user on Twitter reported that the number for Armenia had apparently been omitted from the simultaneous retransmission in Azerbaijan.

Armenia's broadcast was not without its problems either, with tweets indicating that the signal dropped for unknown reasons during Azerbaijan's turn to announce the results of its vote live on air. Although there is nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a technical problem, some in Armenia gleefully wondered if the glitch was deliberate. True, there is nothing to suggest that it wasn't at time of writing, but anyway.

On screen on Saturday night, the Armenian Eurovision representative from last year, Sirusho, also displayed a photograph of a monument in the Nagorno-Karabakh capital Stepanakert, which is deeply symbolic for Karabakh Armenians.

An Azerbaijani blogger, Nigar Fatali, put the whole thing in perspective:

So, yesterday after few margaritas we decided to join the Eurovision Party organized by a close friend of mine.

We arrived at the place, ordered drinks, took pictures, listened to the songs, which, I have to admit, were mostly much better than all the other Eurovision contests I remember.

Anyway, then came the Armenian girls.

The crowd started whistling, boo-ing and finally demanded that the organisators turn off the sound. They did. Armenian girls danced and opened their mouths in total silence to the accompaniment of Azerbaijani whistling. As I expected such thing to happen, the only question I asked my friends was: "Is it gonna help return the lands?". Of course, no one have had the answer.


I didn't notice the picture Sirusho held in her hands but I saw it today on TV and it made me think.

We might have had plenty of lands and legendary kings but what do we have today? 3 major and several minor conflicts in a tiny region and headlines in the world news? Is this something to be proud of? Are hating-the-neigbor zombie generations good future for us? Not for me or the kids I will eventually have. Not for any of us.

Perhaps, it's time to switch from Kindergarten approach to the real Conflict Resolution one, don't you think?

-- Luke Allnutt

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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