The lyrics of Armenia’s song “Don’t Deny” won’t be released until later this month, but the song’s timing with the centenary of the Armenian Genocide has left some critics scratching their heads. They point out that the song likely violates the Eurovision rule that explicitly forbids songs of a political nature.
The loudest criticism is coming from regional rival Azerbaijan. In a strongly-worded statement issued on February 13, Azerbaijan’s Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (ITV) condemed the alleged breech of the rules:
This contest can’t be a victim of any country’s political ambitions and converted into a political arena. The Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Company state that if the news is confirmed, we will also take appropriate steps in the contest.
In press materials sent out on Wednesday, Armenia’s public broadcaster AMPTV said that forming the Eurovision Supergroup — which will consist of five members of the Armenian diaspora — was inspired by the forget-me-not flower, which is the centennial symbol of the genocide. Its five petals represent singers from five continents — see who they could be here — while the centre of the flower represents The Motherland Armenia. In the words of AMPTV, it’s about “valuing the idea of peace, unity, and tolerance,” and fits with the Eurovision theme of “Building Bridges.”
Azerbaijan is, of course, the sister state of Turkey, which adamantly denies the Armenian Genocide, which began in April 1915. Historians believe it resulted in the deaths of at least one million people. The European Court of Human Rights is currently testing whether governments can make it a criminal offense to deny the events.
Azerbaijan’s statement that it will “take appropriate steps” is up for interpretation. If they deem the song too political, they could potentially withdraw from the contest. But given the passion Azerbaijan has for Eurovision this seems very unlikely. Perhaps they will field a song that they view is equally political, as a defense of their neighbours?
What do you think? Is it too early to call? If the song does overtly reference the genocide, should it be allowed?