Thanks, but no thanks: Bosnia and Herzegovina reject Ralph Siegel’s Eurovision 2018 offer


He’s one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. And as he celebrates his 72nd birthday today — many happy returns — Ralph Siegel is back in the headlines. According to Dnevni Avazthe man behind a whooping 24 Eurovision entries was ready to both organise and bankroll a Bosnia and Herzegovina entry for Lisbon 2018. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

Reports suggest that the German songsmith had lined up Hanka Paldum to perform his song. When contacted by Dnevni Avaz, Paldum — a popular folk singer — confirmed that the story was true.

However, despite Siegel’s commitment to fund the project, BHRT turned down the offer. But it’s not a case of “Just Get Out of My Life”. The beleaguered TV network is in dire financial trouble. It owes massive debts, and as a result must endure punitive sanctions.

A trip to Lisbon might be out of the question, but Hanka Paldum isn’t giving up on her Eurovision ambitions just yet. She intends to continue a working relationship with Siegel and hopes to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as the national broadcaster’s monetary woes recede.

Ralph Siegel and Eurovision

Ralph Siegel’s 45 year love affair with Eurovision began in 1972 when he entered “Hallelujah Man” into the German national selection. Two years later he reached the actual contest for the first time when Luxembourg sent “Bye Bye I Love You”.

Since then he’s penned many iconic entries including “Dschinghis Khan” (Germany 1979), “Theater” (Germany 1980), “Papa Pingouin” (Luxembourg 1980), and “Johnny Blue” (Germany 1981). He won the contest outright in 1982 with “Ein bißchen Frieden”. Performed by Nicole, it was Germany’s first victory at Eurovision.

In recent times, he’s become synonymous with San Marino — the tiny microstate located on the Italian peninsula — overseeing their entry on five occasions since 2012.

Bosnia and Herzegovina at Eurovision

Earlier this month, BHRT confirmed that Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be involved in Lisbon. While the non-return was disappointing news to fans, it came as little surprise.

In August, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 2016 singer Dalal posted a link to a wiwibloggs article about the likelihood of her country winning Eurovision. Dalal added the comment “Too bad we don’t have representatives in 2018”.

It is also known that broadcaster BHRT has been plagued by financial troubles that make Eurovision entry an extremely low priority. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s last entry — Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner & Jala with “Ljubav je” in 2016 — was entirely privately funded, through sponsorship and contributions from the artists themselves.

Last year, the broadcaster confirmed that they would not be able to participate in Eurovision 2017 due to its financial situation, including a €5.5 million debt to the EBU. A spokesperson said it would be “highly irresponsible” to enter “such an expensive project as Eurovision” when it could not afford to participate.

Bosnia and Herzegovina first entered Eurovision in 1993. Since the semi-finals were introduced, Bosnia and Herzegovina could always be counted on to quality for the grand final, until their entry in 2016 broke their lucky streak by only just missing out in 11th place.

Their best result was in 2006, when Hari Mata Hari placed third with the evocative Balkan ballad “Lejla”, written by 2004 runner-up Zeljko Joksimovic.

Bosnia and Herzegovina took a three-year break from Eurovision, from 2013 to 2015, before returning in 2016. And despite their absence this year and next year, fans are still hoping that Bosnia and Herzegovina will eventually return to Eurovision.