On Monday Turkey’s Vice Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag sent Eurovision fans into a frenzy when he met with members of the press at TRT Headquarters.
Asked whether the government has any plans of returning to Eurovision in 2018, he confirmed that participation isn’t on the cards.
Analysis of the meeting has been somewhat scant, but noted Turkish journalist Ali Eyüboglu has offered some insights on his Instagram account, where he tries to explain the reasons why a Eurovision return for Turkey is unlikely.
Eyüboglu, who is known to have friends in high places across government and entertainment through his work with a number of leading Turkish newspapers and magazines, shared a picture of the Eurovision and TRT logos with his 35,000 followers.
In the meaty caption he nodded to the endless speculation over whether Turkey will return to the contest — and who its contestant might be.
“Will Turkey come back to Eurovision?” he writes. “In recent days there have been rumours that Turkey will participate and that they are even in talks to choose the singer.”
“[There have been] polls on social media, where some say Aynur Aydin, some say Aleyna Tilki and some say Atiye should represent the country. This is what’s been spoken, but what is the truth?”
Eyüboglu then revisits many of the arguments that diehard Eurovision fans already know. He cites three principle issues that keep Turkey away. Under these conditions, he writes, fans should just “forget Eurovision”.
(1) “According to the arguments of TRT, there hasn’t been any change on voting rules that Turkey is opposed to.”
Translation: Turkey does better with televoters than with the jury and feels that juries mark it down.
For instance, in 2009, Turkey’s Hadise earned 12 points from televoters in nine countries. But only one jury — Azerbaijan — gave her its top points.
In 2011 the Turkish band Yüksek Sadakat failed to make the final. While the televoting public ranked them 10th, the juries put them down in 12th — sealing their fate.
(2) “The cost of pre-confirmation and participation in the show is too high for TRT.”
In recent years a number of countries — from Bosnia & Herzegovina to Ukraine — have had to withdraw owing to financial difficulties. But more often than not they sort out their financial issues and return to the contest.
Turkey — which has been absent for five consecutive years — seems to take issue with its fee, which the EBU decides based on a number of factors including potential viewers. Given that Turkey’s 80 million people make it larger than any other participating nation except Russia and Germany, its fee is probably quite hefty. At the very least it’s bigger than TRT deems fair.
(3) “The Big 5 seems to be another injustice for TRT.”
The first two points lead quite naturally to this one. TRT feels that juries are biased against it. Then, adding insult to injury, they have to pay a hefty fee based on their population. And then, despite being larger than Big 5 nations France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, they are not guaranteed a spot in the final.
Critics of Turkey’s position will point out that Russia — by far the biggest country in Europe with a population of more than 140 million — isn’t in the Big 5 either. And it’s pretty clear juries have a tendency to penalise its acts. The best way of guaranteeing a spot in the final is to send a strong act.
Eurovision 2018 rumours
This year’s rumour mill seemed to churn faster and with more force than in recent years.
As we previously reported, Sertab Erener fuelled speculation that Turkey would return during a recent Instagram Live session.
“How do you feel about being the first Turkish woman who won Eurovision?” she was asked.
“What can I say..I’m very happy. I think TRT will start participating again next year at the Eurovision — I mean we as a country will participate. And that’s what I’m telling you from here. I hope the one who represents us will win the contest.”
Turkey’s 2010 representative maNga later posted a cryptic message on Twitter: “Eurovision again and again?” they asked.
Fans quickly interpreted this as a sign that Turkey — and indeed maNga — would be making a comeback.
They subsequently issued a denial, saying that their message had been misinterpreted.
In any case, that’s what a prominent Turkish journalist thinks. What do YOU think? Do you think Turkey was mistreated during its final years at Eurovision? Are they right to stay away in protest? Let us know in the comments box below.