The EBU can’t get away from the issue of flags at this year’s Eurovision. But whilst we haven’t heard or seen any issues with flags in the audience, it was Armenia’s Iveta Mukuchyan who sparked controversy last night. As we previously reported, Iveta brandished the flag of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area during a recap segment in last night’s live semi-final. Now, the EBU has reacted by handing down a sanction to Armenia’s broadcaster, AMPTV.
The EBU’s statement, released earlier today, condemned Iveta’s actions, explaining:
We are acutely aware of the tense situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the ongoing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We consider the appearance of a flag of a highly disputed territory in the live transmission a serious breach of Rule 1.2.2h of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest stating that “no messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows”.
The full details of the sanction handed down to AMPTV will be decided at the next meeting of the Eurovision Reference Group in June. This means there’ll be no immediate effect on Iveta’s particiaption in Saturday’s grand final. The statement does, however, warn that Armenia could be disqualified for a further breach of the rule this year:
Furthermore, the EBU has imposed a zero-tolerance policy towards the Armenian delegation with regards to breaching the Rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, in particular in relation to the aforementioned incident. The Reference Group wishes to point out that any further breach of the Rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest could lead to disqualification from this year’s event or any successive editions.
Watch: Iveta Mukuchyan talks about Nagorono-Karabakh flag incident
This is not, of course, the first time that the Nagorno-Karabakh territory has caused controversy between Armenia and Azerbaijan at Eurovision. In 2009, Armenia’s postcard initially featured the “We Are the Mountains” monument, based in the region. Following an Azeri protest, the postcard was modified. In response, Armenia’s spokesperson, Sirusho, openly displayed the monument in a picture on a clipboard she was holding.
Still – Iveta seemed to be in good spirits despite the news tonight. She took to the stage at the #wiwijam, singing a cool, jazzy version of “LoveWave”. That’s one way to calm everything down!