Eurovision politics Russia Morocco Georgia Lebanon

Over the years, dozens of countries have withdrawn from Eurovision for a plethora of reasons, including finances, artistic differences, and poor results. On occasion, it may even be just because one broadcaster dislikes another.

Unfortunately, many withdrawals arise from more unpleasant sources, namely international political disputes.

While Eurovision may be branded as an apolitical event that espouses slogans such as “building bridges” and “celebrate diversity”, the contest has long been a victim of frayed diplomatic relations.

The ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine might be unprecedented, but history shows that they’re most definitely not the first countries to drag the contest into murky waters.

Should Russia withdraw, it will join an ever growing list of countries that withdrew from Eurovision due to a breakdown in international relations.

Austria 1969

Just three years on from Udo Jürgens’ famous win with “Merci, Chérie”, Austria withdrew from Eurovision 1969. The move was in response to Spain hosting the contest after Massiel’s 1968 victory. At the time, Spain was ruled by the fascist dictator General Franco. The boycott was perhaps unsurprising given Austria’s history with the Nazis.

Ironically, the Iberian country only won by one point the previous year, with the Austrian jury awarding them two points.

Austria returned to the Eurovision fold in 1971, after sitting out the 1970 contest due to the 1969 result where four countries tied for first place.

https://youtu.be/YuElHwNLgOw

Greece 1975

Greece made its Eurovision debut in 1974, but pulled out just one year later. Despite the EBU blaming “unknown reasons”, the Greek withdrawal was in protest at Turkey’s debut in the 1975 contest. Relations between the two nations were extremely tense following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Turkey 1976

Greece returned to the contest in 1976 and Turkey promptly withdrew. This time the controversy was in relation to the Greek entry “Panagia mou, panagia mou”. The song – which urged a mother not to cry over the destruction of her homeland – was interpreted as being about the 1974 invasion of Cyprus.

Despite its withdrawal, Turkey opted to broadcast the contest. However, the Greek performance was censored and substituted with the nationalist Turkish song “Memleketim” (My Motherland). Turkey didn’t enter Eurovision again until 1978.

Tunisia 1977

Tunisia was due to perform at Eurovision 1977, and was even drawn fourth in the running order. However, the country withdrew before the contest took place. While no official reason was given, it is widely believed that the U-turn was linked to Israel’s continuing presence.

Had Tunisia participated, it would have been the first African nation to compete at Eurovision. As of 2017, the country has yet to make its debut.

Turkey 1979

After its 1978 comeback, Turkey were gone once again for Eurovision 1979. This time the issue was with the host country, Israel. The Turks initially intended to participate, and even selected Maria Rita Epik and “Seviyorum”. However, Turkey ultimately withdrew due to mounting pressure from its Arab neighbours, most of whom were in conflict with Israel.

Turkey returned the following year and, excluding its relegation in 1994, competed in every contest up to and including 2012.

The country withdrew ahead of Eurovision 2013 and has yet to return. Initially broadcaster TRT blamed EBU rules regarding juries and the “big five”. Now, many attribute their continued absence to government policies.

Morocco 1981

Eurovision 1980 clashed with Israel’s Day of Remembrance and so, despite winning in both 1978 and 1979, Israel withdrew. At the same time Morocco chose to make its debut, becoming the first African nation to compete.

Once Israel announced its intention to return for Eurovision 1981, Morocco withdrew and hasn’t been back since. While never officially stated, it’s widely accepted that Israel’s return was the reason – the country has no diplomatic links with Israel, although there was a brief thawing of relations in the 1990s.

It also probably didn’t help that Morocco finished second to last, with Samira Said and “Bitaqat Hub” receiving just seven points.

Lebanon 2005

An EBU member since 1950, Lebanon finally decided to enter Eurovision in 2005. Aline Lahoud was internally selected to sing “Quand tout s’enfuit” in the Eurovision semi-final. However, problems quickly arose.

Under Lebanese law, the country’s television stations are banned from broadcasting any Israeli content. Therefore, Israel’s performance would have to be cut from the show. However, under Eurovision rules, participating broadcasters are obliged to show the entire contest.

Consequently, Lebanon withdrew. And because they did so after the withdrawal deadline, they were penalised and banned from entering for three years. The country has made no attempt to return since the ban ended in 2009.

Georgia 2009

In August 2008, after a period of worsening relations, Georgia and Russia went to war over the disputed regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia. The following February, Stefane & 3G won Georgia’s Eurovision selection. As a result they would sing “We Don’t Wanna Put In” at the 2009 contest in Moscow.

Controversy ensued as the song was seen to make reference to Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin. This argument was backed up by the fact that the group pronounced the lyrics “put in” as “poot een”.

The EBU ruled that the lyrics were not permissible under Eurovision rules and that Georgia must either amend them or send a new entry. Georgia refused and withdrew completely, attributing the EBU’s objections to pressure from Russia.

Georgia returned in 2010 and have competed every year since. Stefane & 3G band member Tamara “Tako” Gachechiladze is set to represent the country in Kyiv.

Armenia 2012

The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan is well documented. So from the moment Ell & Nikki laid their hands on the Eurovision trophy in 2011, Armenia’s participation the following year was in doubt.

The government of Azerbaijan responded by guaranteeing the safety of the Armenian delegation, and on 17 January 2012 Armenia confirmed its participation. In late February 2012, Armenian singers issued a statement saying the country should boycott the competition following the death of an Armenian soldier in Azeri sniper attack.

But when PanArmenian.Net released what it claimed to be Armenia’s 2012 Eurovision song and entry on its website, everything looked like it was on track for Baku. Lucia Moon would apparently sing a song called “Delicious Feeling/ Call It Insane”.

However, on 8 March, one day after the purported song appeared, Armenia officially withdrew. This was in response to a speech by Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan. In it, he claimed that Azerbaijan’s “main enemies are Armenians of the world”. As a result, Armenia felt that it could not send a delegation to a country where they “will be greeted as an enemy”.

Armenia returned in 2013.

Russia 2017?

As at the time of writing, the situation is still in flux.

Russia and Eurovision 2017 hosts Ukraine have been in direct conflict ever since the former illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. Ukraine withdrew the following year, citing financial and political instability resulting from the dispute.

Upon its 2016 comeback, Ukraine won the contest with Jamala’s “1944” — a song which, although about historic events, was interpreted by many as anti-Russian.

As the 2017 deadline submission approached, speculation began to mount that Russia would withdraw. However, with just a few days to spare, they announced Julia Samoylova as their representative with “Flame Is Burning“.

It soon emerged that she was being investigated by the Ukrainian authorities in relation to a 2015 concert in Crimea. They ruled that she had broken Ukrainian law and banned her from entering the country.

A diplomatic crisis ensued. Most recently, the EBU offered a compromise whereby Julia could call in her performance via satellite — both sides flatly rejected the proposal.

Right now, Russia’s Eurovision 2017 participation remains in limbo.

What do you think of the current crisis? Let us know in the comments or react using the wiwibloggs app.

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Guest

Yep, Papa Claus have toys for those good kids. I have been riding my reindeers around but can’yt find Andrew Do’s house. Is it in Garden Grove or in Santa Ana? Anyway, he’s not on my good kid list. He’s on my $*it list.

Anka
Guest
Anka

Dream on. Russia is not the country to bend under some pressure. You must learn it by now. Russia has no reason to withdraw. It won’t happen. Ukraine must go through the full and complete circle of humiliation for their atrocious behavior. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoy this complete chaos at Eurovision 2017 that was triggered by catastrophic stupidity of the EBU last year. I predicted the mess this year and posted a few comments in that regard at the point when the EBU appointed the fail state – Ukraine – to host the contest. It was simply… Read more »

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[…] […]

Sashko
Guest
Sashko

Ohana,
Ne trymajte svoe serce zakrytym, kohaite i bud’te kohanymy…

Peter
Guest
Peter

We could’ve been in Lebanon in 2006

Esc london
Guest
Esc london

@Rimig I’m only say facts: the fact is jewish are the smartest pepole, go and look how many of them won nobel prize compare to others, Go and check how many if them responsible to all the important inventions in mediceine and tech….Google, whatsapp, waze, facebook are all jewish/israelis inventions..4 of 10 most richest pepole in the world are jewish, israel is number 1 in areas like tech, medicine, siber, security and more all of that made by jewish the smallest religion from the 3 monotheistic religions.so yes i stand for what i wrote that is a fact.

Rimig
Guest
Rimig

@esc london
By saying that jews are “the most smart secssesful pepole in the world” (guess you mean the “smartest successful people in the world”), you are being as much as a racist and an idiot as @il pleut!
I would lock haters like you, il pleut, Oxana, and some others up in one room so you get the chance to kill each other and let the normal, respectful people live in peace.

Sing
Guest
Sing

ppppppp
You are pure brainwashed idiot.

Colin
Guest
Colin

@ESC84 – Portugal had a streak on non-qualifications and decided to re-boot their NF Festival de Cancao before entering again. It had nothing to do with Sweden. Bosnia withdrawing this year also has nothing to do with Ukraine. This article is about political withdrawals only.

Stan
Guest
Stan

It seems like we’re getting further and further away from eurovision’s goal: bring people together by sharing music…

Arik
Guest
Arik

To all israel haters here, Go get some life please, i understands that in your arabic countries its kind of hard to get real life..but do try!!! because in your war against israel you fail in all areas..

ppppppp
Guest
ppppppp

Russia is pure evil. Should be banned from everywhere.

ESC84
Guest
ESC84

Question:
Why Portugal won’ t participate when Sweden host the Contest?

Saizis
Guest
Saizis

Ohhh Russia. Please take the loss! You played your dirty little game very well but it failed. Just withdrawl and come back in 2018.

liron
Guest
liron

@Wiwibloggs- why you not block racist and antisemetic comments against israel and jewish pepole like the dumb idiot : @il pleut wrote.i think you should delete his ugly comment.

Esc london
Guest
Esc london

@il pleut Cant stand Muslim, Arabs, terrorists, killers, primitive animals, barbarians pepole like you. keep envy of the most smart secssesful pepole in the world : jewish and jewish Israel’s…Go to hozballa to kill more people you morron antisemitic animal.

il pleut
Guest
il pleut

Oh, gosh. Fall in love with Lebanese song. What a masterpiece! My new addiction, Raped replay button. Well done Lebanon. Can`t stand jews, israelis. Barbars, , vandals, morons

Erin
Guest
Erin

@Oxana – no need to jump the gun when it’s not targeted at you. it’s a real pity you strike before you count till three because it doesn’t make your truth more palatable.
@Liron – thanks

liron
Guest
liron

@Oxana I do not think that @Erin meant to the Russian Ukrainian conflict…If you read her comment again you see that she comment regarding the israeli issue..so there is no need to attack her….

Whatever
Guest
Whatever

@ Sasha – ”I’m an Ukrainian humanitarian aid worker.”

Really ? And who believes you ?
_________________________________________

It’s sad to see EBU desperate to find solutions for Russia because is afraid that will lose some millions tv viewers. Russia doesn’t want to participate this year, Russia provoked Ukraine with the purpose of being rejected, now EBU is losing a big fish like Russia that has money + viewers, the only 2 important things for EBU.

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Erin,
Ukraine was one of the members who created U.N. just the same importance as Russia. what’s your country? does it have GREATER importance to UN creation than Ukraine so you can stick your tongue into that hope in attempt to twist facts? I don’t think so

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Sasha, “Ukrainian humanitarian worker” as you described yourself should be something like college educated individual with IQ higher than 80, with clear ability read, write and to analize information. are you an angel? really? 🙂 you have dirty soul, every one of us humans does. because we’re spending our time in hell among idiots and humanitarian workers who fails to learn school 8th grade lesson dedicated to guilt and intentions to commit crimes versus charges and prosecutions oh wait… I beg your pardron. of course you’re an angel with purest soul ever. that’s why you’re think so highly about your… Read more »

Erin
Guest
Erin

A participating ESC member doesn’t have to be democratic or necessarily a western liberal democracy, but it can’t ostracize another country or impose custom-made set of rules on any particular country for its own political expediency! That’s where the line is drawn and where the buck stops! When a country blocks another recognized U.N member country’s content as part of its own laws, that country is hostile to principles of cultural exchanges, freedom of expression, distribution of ideas and openness. It’s obsessed with mechanisms and practices of political and cultural indoctrination where its own people serve as unwitting instruments for… Read more »

Sasha
Guest
Sasha

Oxana,
I never described Ukraine as evil nor do I believe it is. I don’t appreciate your personal attacks when you know nothing about me or my personality. For example, the fact I’m an Ukrainian humanitarian aid worker. So forgive my “dirty soul” as your wish for others to treat me in a dirty manner. I wish you the best and hope you will find peace in life.

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Tommy boy, Russia in 2018 won’t excist, however full name of Ukraine is Ukraine-Rus’. are you hinting that we’ll rebrand next year? 🙂

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Sasha

what you “believe” is your biased opiion. Russia haven’t tried to bring an artist without criminal background so what’s your “beliefs” based on? evil Ukraine? oh sure. anything new? I hope god sees your dirty sould and from now on all people will treat you just like you treat Ukraine in this situation

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Oxana
Do not worry about Russia, 2018 Russia will take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, but whether Ukraine will take part, the big question.

Sasha
Guest
Sasha

Oxana,
You’re telling me Ukraine will approve another Russian participant if they haven’t violated this law? I believe Ukraine will find a reason not to approve any Russian participant. I’m not defending neither Russia nor Ukraine. But it’s not a voluntary withdrawal if they will have obstacle after obstacle. They are right in not selecting a replacement since it was made clear the participant will be challenged regardless.

QUE
Guest
QUE

ISRAEL IS BETTER THAN ALL THIS COUNTRIES TOGETHER. SO PATHETIC FROM THEIR SIDE.

Julie
Guest
Julie

When Ukraine combs through a contestant’s social media comments, and uses that as part of their justification for banning the contestant, then that tells you they will find any excuse at all to ban any Russian contestant, no matter if they’re a “criminal” or not. This is a terrible practice: freedom of speech is foundational to a democracy, but I suppose what does Ukraine know about being a democracy?

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

cheesecake
no one forces Russia to withdraw, they still have an option to send an artist without criminal record, but they have refused it. also they won’t trasmit ESC 2017 so the 2d question – will EBU penalize them by skipping next 2018 year because they haven’t broadcasted?

Russia got in very ugly situation. they are technically withdrawing and possibly won’t be able to participate in 2018 so they kinda lied to poor Julia about next chance to sing. that’s cruel but so typical for Russia so I’m not surprised

Ern
Guest
Ern

@fikri — Australia was better than Russia.

I was all for Russia in 2016, until I saw the live performance. Technically it was very impressive, but it seemed a little bit TOO much, and his vocals suffered because of it.

Paulina Gagarina from the previous year was better.

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Ron,
I already told you I don’t like him. I’m not trying to defend him or I don’t take responsibility for what he says or tweets. But seriously, 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory is under occupation and the Azeri history in Karabakh has been being destroyed. What do you expect him to tweet? Oh, good for you. Well done guys?

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

Thank you Padraig, that makes sense.

liron
Guest
liron

@NickC Yes she won 🙂 she is not native born turkish, but her parents born in Turkey.here is a link to other song in turkish when she sing in her audition with shlomi shabat a turkish jewish singer.
https://youtu.be/jfrm9-qq3m4

Ron
Guest
Ron

@NickC…”and adding to that list Turkey” meant Turkey is not necessarily in that region. I’m well familiar with geography and where Turkey is located. I’m also well familiar with Turkish politics and where the country is headed.

Ron
Guest
Ron

@Rashad – yea, let’s call it “alternate facts”. The funny thing is, this is not the worst thing he has said about Armenians. Once he took the twitter before Trump made twitter his political platform and went on and on with anti-armenian messages. It was so insane, most news agencies covered the story.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/president-of-azerbaijan-declares-state-of-war-with-armenia-on-twitter-9655692.html

I’ll leave you with the link.

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Ron, Following this sentence he also says this: ‘Members of some parliaments, certain political figures, etc. who live on the money of the Armenian lobby.’ It’s pretty clear that he means the Armenian lobby and those politicians influenced by them. I don’t like Aliyev and his corrupted regime, but trust me, he’s clever and he’s always careful with what he says. I know the Armenian media tried to dramatize it and make a show out of it just because the contest was being held in Azerbaijan. But not many were stupid to fall for that. They cropped out Aliyev’s statement… Read more »

INSANE
Guest
INSANE

Delicious Feeling/ Call It Insane is the best troll song ever.

Lebanon 2005 is amazing. It could’ve been a contender.

Magistr
Guest
Magistr

Meanwhile Jehovah Witnesses were banned in Russia for no reason.

NickC
Guest
NickC

@Liron
I do not agree with my country’s current politics either, do not worry. 🙂
It really saddens me the current direction we are heading.

Thanks for the link, her voice great, but her Turkish enunciation basically tells me she is not a native speaker (but thats not important), and I absolutely hate that song (from Ibrahim Tatlises, who was basically a small scale mafia leader).

Did she win?

liron
Guest
liron

@NickC I’m also not agree with your gavrament politics..but lest leave it there..we have lot’s in common in our history and culture..thanks for remembering ofra haza from 1983 it’s my favorite israeli song. Im sending you link to an israeli singer sapir saban who recently won the voice israel and sing in tutkish in the final.tell me what you think of herhttps://youtu.be/y7gjToWSBo0

Bar
Guest
Bar

@AngieP What you concluded? That israel is to blame?? Such idiotic comment from you, and no thanks we do not need that type of states in the eurovision..they have their own eurovision if you do not know that.

NickC
Guest
NickC

@Liron I may not agree with the politics of Israel recently, but yes, of course I have lots of Jewish (as well as Armenian and Greek) friends in Turkey. And I can assure you, majority of Turks have nothing against Israelis, Armenians, Greeks, or Cypriots. We have given Israel 12 points in 1991 (What a wonderful song Kan was, and should have won), we have given Armenia 12 points in number of occasions , and we have given 12 points to Greece in 2005 (deservedly so). And personally, some of my all time favorite songs of all time include Hora… Read more »

NickC
Guest
NickC

@Ron
Turkey is neither African, nor Arab.
Try to be a bit more accurate in your racist slurs, if you can.

Ron
Guest
Ron

@Rashad – Just so that you know that your president did actually say the following words: “First, our main enemies are Armenians of the world and the hypocritical and corrupt politicians under their control” and I am adding the link to where you can verify this yourself. It’s your own president’s official website…please read the 7th paragraph from the end. https://web.archive.org/web/20140622193215/http://en.president.az/articles/4423 Secondly, the Armenian withdrawal was twofolds. In December of 2011, Armenia confirmed participation but stated that they were still working on the logistics of security with EBU. Essentially, Armenian delegation had stated that they would need additional security measures… Read more »

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

@Whatever
I didn’t express any emotion! I didn’t say Israel should withdraw! I just made a conclusion!
Of course I want as many countries as possible to have the opportunity to be in this festival.

@HarpyDarper
Yes, I remember that too. Especially the 2nd one you’re reffering to. For Greece, the country exists with the name “F.Y.R.O.M.” not “Macedonia”. That’s why they did that in 2006.

Also, about the 2004 incident, Turkey didn’t recognize the whole island of Cyprus as a country, as far as I know.
I don’t know the situation now though.

Ron
Guest
Ron

@KennyESC – I would choose Israel anytime, any day over those backwards, undeveloped and downright hateful north african/arab countries like Tunisia, Morocco, and adding to that list Turkey.

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

Two questions.
First: “Despite its withdrawal, Turkey opted to broadcast the contest. However, the Greek performance was censored and substituted with the nationalist Turkish song “Memleketim” (My Motherland).” – How was this legal? Did the rule that broadcasters have to show every performance come after that year?

Second: Would Russia be punished for withdrawing at this stage, even if it’s more of a forced withdrawal?