Basque

The official flag policy for Eurovision 2016 has triggered unprecedented outrage in the land of the 1000 Eurodramas. A draft of the European Broadcasting Union document placed the Basque flag (Ikurriña) next to that of the Islamic State. This has been interpreted as criminalizing the flag by many parts of Basque and Spanish society.

ebu banned flags1

Reaction from Spaniards was swift and critical.

From the national broadcaster to the Basque government, a series of public bodies flooded the Spanish media with their outrage.

On Friday Eusko Jaurlaritza (the Basque executive) received an apology from the EBU. Let’s go around and review all the reactions.

Early morning: Basque government demands an explanation

The controversy started on Thursday, when the official ticket seller Axs.com published the document. EH Bildu, a left-wing party, demanded a response from the Swedish embassy.

As it turns out, the published document was a draft of the EBU’s policy that wasn’t yet ready for publication.

Things heated up on Friday when the Lehendakari (Basque president) Iñigo Urkullu demanded that the EBU remove the banner from the list. And if they wouldn’t, he suggested that Spain withdraw from the competition.

The news made headlines in major media around Spain, including Cadena SER, eldiario.es, Público and ABC. Even one of the heads of PP, Javier Maroto — who you might remember as the Eurovision fan politician — reacted.

Things get even more serious: the government and RTVE react

Around noon, a Spanish political storm hit Sweden. The national broadcaster RTVE published an official announcement stating their “perplexity”. They also informed the public that, as much as they were unconnected with the flag policy, they demanded explanations and a correction. You can read RTVE’s statement here.

The president of the corporation, José Antonio Sánchez, expressed his “surprise” because of the inclusion of the Ikurriña in the list. He also pointed out that the banner is an official flag recognised by the Spanish legislation, the Basque Statute of Autonomy and the Spanish Constitution.

A bit later, during the press conference after the weekly meeting of the Spanish cabinet, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the spokesperson of the government, demanded “respect” towards the Basque citizens and their “constitutional, legal and legitimate” flag. Moreover, she stated that the Spanish government would defend Ikurriña, “whatever it takes”.

Furthermore, Sáenz de Santamaría explained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would send a complaint to the Swedish government and that RTVE would do so to the Eurovision organizing committee.

The EBU rectifies and apologizes

On Friday the EBU responded to the multiple Spanish inquiries. In an official statement, the organization said they understand the concerns that the list triggered and that they were sorry for that.

The EBU has also asked both Axs.com and Globenarena.se to replace the former documents with a new version, which does not feature the sample banned flags list.

At the end of the day, once the waters calmed down, it was the Prime Minister’s turn to make a statement on the incident. Although he did not cite it directly, Mariano Rajoy wished Barei good luck at the #EuroPartyBarei, one of her last promo events before leaving for Stockholm, in a Tweet that also contained the Basque flag:

Kosovo also reacts

RTVE was not the only broadcaster upset by the EBU’s flag policy. Kosovo’s RTK has also expressed its uneasiness with the EBU’s rule in an official statement (which you can read in English here):

The Kosovan national broadcaster went further than the Spanish and described the incident as “racism and an insult to the citizens of Kosovo”.

What do you think of all this flag controversy? Do you think regional flags should be banned at Eurovision? Let us know in the comment section!

READ MORE SPAIN NEWS HERE!

33 Comments
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Random.sage2.5
Random.sage2.5
5 years ago

I understand the bans but still don’t believe in them. Why are flags of UN recognized states being put next to ISIS? ?:)

Alex
Alex
5 years ago

Official flags of all eligible participants, that’s it. That means all 42 flags may be present, plus Andorra, Turkey, Portugal etc, but no Kosovo, Yugoslavia etc!

Easy and fair enough.

Carlos Palomares
Carlos Palomares
5 years ago

I can see some give opinions without knowing the Spanish reality. The Basque flag is an official flag, it hasnt got any political reference behind it as might have others you are mentioning. The big mistake they did was thinking, by unknownledge, that flag represented ETAs terrorism.

jj
jj
5 years ago

I think this is based on the Albanians last year flying the “Greater Albania” banner, which could be seen during Bojana’s performance. The “Greater Albania” is their desire for a big Albanian state that is not only Albania and Kosovo, but also includes half of Macedonia, parts of Greece, parts of Montenegro and more parts of Serbia. The Albanians are very land-greedy and it is ironic given how 10s of thousands of them have migrated to western Europe in the last 1.5 years. They seem to prefer to live in other countries, yet want to take parts of other countries… Read more »

cheesecake
cheesecake
5 years ago

And suddenly they all care about Eurovision…
The flag restriction is good. Everybody planning on bringing a flag of Crimea, Basque, Kosovo, etc. was only gonna do it for political reasons anyway.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Anton, commit 🙂

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

oxyk
What a mess in your mind. You are so brainwashed. I’m tired of you. Free me from yourself.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Anton, Ukraine lost 10-12 millions of civilians, Poland lost about 6 millions civilians during WWII. Because of Soviet Union pigs who sides with Nazi Germany and they both killed and destroyed. Don’t forget, that besides mutual violence of Ukraine and Poland, our countries suffered most from you and your nazi brothers. Why don’t you call it a genocide? In Volyn massacre died not only Poles, their army killed roughly the same amount of Ukrainian peasants and there was a whisper that this massacre started KGB provocators to make sure we’ll kill each other. You know what? We’re not that silly… Read more »

Ben Rafter
Ben Rafter
5 years ago

I think any flag should be allowed to a point. What’s wrong with bringing your province’s flag? And Kosovo is a country! I wouldn’t allow Islamic State flags and Nazi flags and things like that. I think the EBU have kind of ruined this year from the voting procedure, to kicking Romania out and now this. Something is up.

MTD
MTD
5 years ago

Oh, EBU, oh SVT…

Don’t you wish your PR fiasco be over? Stay strong, two more weeks to go. And hopefully, no PR blunders in these two weeks. 😉

And don’t you ever win ESC again, at least in the next 20 years!

David Who
David Who
5 years ago

We’re all human, never forget that.
My view on flags is more practical than political. If waving flags practically obscures the view of the stage and disrupts the audiences’ experience, then they should all be banned. If waving flags doesn’t cause any practical problems, then allow them all. (I would have liked to see the United Federation of Planets flag from Star Trek. Going beyond the earth. :))

zaza
zaza
5 years ago

First time I agree with EBU with banned flags. I love Eurovision when we don t have flags in public, when public all seat and public is dressed like they go to opera .

Stan
Stan
5 years ago

It’s sensitive, let’s ban them all… I think that’s the easiest and better for the low camera angles.

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

Regardless of which qualification of the Volhynian massacres is the most suitable, there is no doubt that the crimes committed by the OUN-B and the UPA were anti-Polish ethnic cleansings of a genocidal character. The public prosecutors of the investigation division of the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, IPN) are conducting 32 investigations regarding the Ukrainian nationalists’ crimes against Polish citizens. These crimes have been recognized as a crime against humanity in its special form, that is, genocide. Article 118 § 1 of the Polish Penal Code of 1997, which introduced the notion of genocide into Polish domestic… Read more »

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

The Volhynian massacres were anti-Polish genocidal ethnic cleansings conducted by Ukrainian nationalists. The massacres took place within Poland’s borders as of the outbreak of WWII, and not only in Volhynia, but also in other areas with a mixed Polish-Ukrainian population, especially the Lvov, Tarnopol, and Stanis?awów voivodeships (that is, in Eastern Galicia), as well as in some voivodeships bordering on Volhynia (the western part of the Lublin Voivodeship and the northern part of the Polesie Voivodeship – see map). The time frame of these massacres was 1943?1945. The perpetrators were the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists?Bandera faction (OUN-B) and its military… Read more »

Jr esc nl
Jr esc nl
5 years ago

I hope the globen will be full of ikkurina flags just to mess with the ebu xD

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Pollaski, I’m sorry our nations had to fight. and your Armija Krajowa also killed a lot of Ukrainians during that time, so we have mutual damage because of war over disputed land. best thing we can do now is to keep peaceful and respectful to each other, to make sure we’ll never fight each other again. from what I see we’re doing OK now, let’s keep it that way.
pozdrawiam serdecznie 🙂

ManDarinas
ManDarinas
5 years ago

I don’t think it happened because of Basque, but because of Kosovo mostly, as I have been following this things in Internet. But who cares about Kosovo, Basque is richer – so it deserves more attention. Pathetic is the title.

Pollaski
Pollaski
5 years ago

@oxyk

The UPA fighting against both the Nazis and Soviet Union in WWII is awesome.

The ethnic cleansing of the polish people… well wasn’t. Doubly so beause I’m part polish from both sides of my family.

The UPA fought for a lot of good- but often doing one really super bad thing overshadows all the good you do.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Anton, you should educate yourself. this article explains why Ukrainians hated Jews and which Jews they killed during war. if you complain that too many Jews has been killed, you should blame it on your regime. we never discriminated Jews because they are Jews. and let’s close this topic. Hardly you can make up new story out of old one.
http://www.dpcamps.org/jewsVsUkrainians.html

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Anton, the obky reason you complain about UPA is your Russian genetical but*hurt our brave warriors cast upon you with their 6 years of resist to mighty soviet army. your coward soldiers died like flees, the casualties rate has been greater than casualties in Afganistan (and that was very severe loss). Yes, UPA had to fight against Russians, Poles and even Germans. But they did it on own land, they tried to defend own people. What your commies forgot on our land, huh? How many Poles and Belarus people your army killed during that time? it’s 5 times greater than… Read more »

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

While many Ukrainians think of the UPA as sort of heroic David to the evil Soviet Goliath, behind the mythology of resistance lurks a bloody (even genocidal) legacy that many nationalists have tried to forget. Ukrainian Insurgent Army troops were behind a gruesome campaign aimed at exterminating ethnic Poles living in western Ukraine. Beginning in 1943 and through to the end of the Second World War, UPA forces murdered an estimated 100,000 civilians in the regions of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. Elements of the faction also clashed with the Polish underground and after the war the group even tangled with… Read more »

Mark
Mark
5 years ago

The audience should not be allowed to carry flags. They always ruin the camera shots

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that our right wing parties will take UPA flags to greet Russia and to show protest against dumb flags policy. UPA considered a terrorist organization in Russia (because they fought against soviet regime for independent Ukraine during WWII), therefore Russian media can’t use a picture of their act with these flags in front of singer, they will be sued by Russian laws 🙂 LGBT flags is not that powerful. Organizers are very dumb. They had to ban UPA flag instead of Crimean Tatars flag to make sure Russia wont suffer panic… Read more »

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

so, in your Europe if you yell loud enough you can get more that other with the same rights? nice to know.
our national flag of Crimean Tatars is the same as Basque flag. yet they haven’t lifted a ban for it? alright. till next year we’ll definitely boot our diplomats who’s failing to yell loud about the issue and there’s no chance we’ll enter this fest of racism ever again. Ban all flags including Basque, Kosovo, LGBT, etc or allow all flags. Otherwise it’s discrimination and racism.

YoungsterJoey
YoungsterJoey
5 years ago

Plot Twist: What about the flag of Yugoslavia? 🙂

IvanM.
IvanM.
5 years ago

It’s easy to develope a draft of document without to be offensive:

Local flags are banned.
EXAMPLE of local flag: (picture of a local flag)
Not legal flags are banned.
EXAMPLE of a not legal flag: (picture of a non legal flag)
Message flags are banned.
EXAMPLE of a message flag: (picture of a message flag)
ISIS flag is banned: (picture of an ISIS flag)

IT’S SOOOOO EASY ……

esc84
esc84
5 years ago

Well done Spain and Kosovo

Nikos
Nikos
5 years ago

I totally agree with Alex and Robyn,

easiest solution is to only allow the competing flags (and possibly noncompeting previous countries). If you think about it, as fans you show up to support your country and/or your favorite entry’s country. So we shouldn’t need other flags present. Also this policy would be easy to enforce and obviously fair!

Pollaski 2: Electric Boogaloo
Pollaski 2: Electric Boogaloo
5 years ago

Let this be a lesson to everyone- if you resort to censorship to avoid offending people, you usually end up offending even more.

James
James
5 years ago

@Darren.
You mention the Scottish and Welsh flags , however my understanding and I could be wrong was that the original article also banned these flags. It said that flags from the other countries in the UNITED Nations were accepted but on the UN list neither Scotland or Wales are individually recognized as they fall under the United Kingdom. So even tho they weren’t on the banned list, the article would seem to suggest Wales and Scotland are unacceptable also which given we have a Welsh entrant is not exactly very welcoming.

Darren
Darren
5 years ago

Shouldn’t be placed ***** not should

Darren
Darren
5 years ago

Well the Basque territory is a recognised state within Spain and is a legitimate flag. That would be like British people going to Stockholm with an English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish flag none of which were banned by the EBU/Globen/SVT. It was an uneducated mistake really and hopefully is rectified soon. Regarding Kosovo, while I myself recognise it as an independent and legitimate state, many countries do not, and it is considered a sensitive issue among some, such as Serbia, who are participating at ESC. Their flags should be placed alongside the Islamic State banner though, as that is… Read more »