The EBU has today confirmed the 19 countries that will be competing in Junior Eurovision 2018 — and with it comes one big surprise. Among the list of regulars and returning countries is the debut of the Central Asian nation Kazakhstan.

Like Australia, Kazakhstan is not a full member of the European Broadcasting Association. However, also like Australia‘s SBS, local broadcaster Khabar Agency is an associate member of the EBU which means they can be invited as a special guest competitor. This now makes two countries with associate membership of the EBU who have received a guest invitation to compete in JESC.

It’s long been known that Kazakhstan has been keen to get involved with Eurovision. Last year broadcaster Channel 31 claimed that Kazakhstan would be sending a delegation to Lisbon and would be debuting at Eurovision 2019.

However, the EBU issued a clarification, stating that “since Channel 31 is outside the European Broadcasting Area and is also not a member of the Council of Europe, it is not eligible to become an active Member of the EBU.”

But the news that Kazakhstan will be participating in Junior Eurovision opens the very real possibility that Kazakhstan could potentially be invited to participate at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Also on the list of confirmed countries is Wales. The British country has previously had a presence at Junior Eurovision, represented by the United Kingdom in their brief participation period from 2003 to 2005.

Wales will now participate as an individual country, with the Welsh-language public broadcaster S4C taking responsibility for the entry. Taking a cue from Ireland, Wales will also use a national final to pick its act for Minsk. The show Chwilio am Seren (Search for a Star) will screen later this year.

Returning to Junior Eurovision 2018 will be Azerbaijan, who last competed in 2014. France is also making a comeback, after having only competed once before, in 2004.

Eurovision 2018 winner Israel will also return to Junior Eurovision, after last competing in 2016. This follows Portugal who also returned to JESC after their Eurovision win.

As well as the above, Junior Eurovision 2018 will also feature returning countries Albania, Armenia,  Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and the Netherlands. Previous regular participants Cyprus and Ukraine have both declined to participate in JESC 2018.

This makes a total of 19 competitors — the most Junior Eurovision has ever had. Combined with the 10,000+ capacity of Minsk Arena, JESC 2018 is shaping up to be a huge show. It is possible that Belarus has gone to extra effort to ensure the arena will be packed with as many people and acts as possible.

Fans are now wondering what the inclusion of Kazakhstan and Wales will mean for the Eurovision Song Contest. Can we expect Kazakhstan to join Australia in getting a guest invitation to Eurovision? Is it possible that England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will join Wales by competing individually at Eurovision?

With the door having been nudged open by both Australia at Eurovision and Kazakhstan at Junior Eurovision, Kazakhstan at Eurovsion does now seem a possibility, if not a certainty.

As for the dis-United Kingdom, while the BBC had no involvement with Junior Eurovision, they have been a regular participant in Eurovision and are a major financial contributor to the EBU. It seems unlikely that they would be happy with other British or Irish networks invading their turf.

But what do you think? Should the EBU invite more non-member guests to Junior Eurovision? Who should Kazakhstan send to sing in Minsk? And should Kazakhstan get a guest invitation to Eurovision? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Read more Junior Eurovision news here

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Roelof Meesters
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Roelof Meesters

Ukraine confirmed it’s participation Today!!!! 20 countries it is

Chrissie
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Chrissie

I’ve checked with JESC’s official website and I was shocked to find out that Albania has debuted as late as 2012! Furthermore, they have participated only four times since then (fifth due soon) and without any remarkable success. With their tremendous talent resources that are the envy of Europe, they can win all Eurovision events year after year, but they are totally uninterested and they want to make their attitude clear to everybody! Well, we’ve got the message. Thank you for letting us know.

Liam Lindsay
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Liam Lindsay

If England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will enter the Eurovision Song Contest as seperate participants here’s what will happen. Wales will be the first of the four to win, likely with a Welsh language song. Northern Ireland will qualify for the final year after year but, in the final itself they’ll be hit or miss. Scotland will have a similar setup to Wales but, not as successful but will qualify 90-95% of the time. England will become like Andorra and San Marino they will almost never qualify and will end up in the bottom 10 each time they do… Read more »

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

England would be part of the BIG 5.

Rasmus
Guest
Rasmus

I think Wales takes it 100% more seriosuly this year then UK have the last 10 years and i like Wales are doing that. If Wales would have taken UKs place in Eurovision i would not mind that but not as a big 5 then. Of The last 5 entrys UK have sent i really liked Lucie Jones and thats it. It was 100% better live then in audio.

brunowskii
Guest
brunowskii

Nice to see Azerbaijan back. Welcome Kazakhstan and Wales!!
Really weird the ukranian withdraw. Sadly Sweden is not coming back again.
Cyprus withdrawing is understandable but considering Eleni’s hypeness it would be a good moment to stay.
And I will always miss Bulgaria and Croatia not.

Anya
Guest
Anya

Why do people always complain about Armenia’s participating in esc/jesc. Armenia has been competing in european edition of all the sport or other events, you’re not the ones to judge or decide.
BTW I am so happy that maximum till date number of countries are participating. Hope to enjoy all the performances and the whole show.

beccaboo1212
Guest

I LOVE Armenia at the Eurovision family of events! 😀

Anya
Guest
Anya

Thanks a lot honey.

Juan Cena
Guest
Juan Cena

I love Artsvik. She looks like a younger Barbara Streisand. I hope she makes it to America soon!

David
Guest
David

Would be cool if Wales have a song in Welsh!

beccaboo1212
Guest

They will! 😀

sevzch
Guest
sevzch

lets go second win for #TeamIsrael!!!

Joe
Guest
Joe

With them also returning to EYM, let’s see if they can be the first to pull of a full sweep of Eurovision events. Two countries have won both EYM and ESC in the same year (Germany in 1982 and Austria in 2014) and it’d be so cool if Israel could do one better.

Matty
Guest
Matty

Wales is a part of the UK and shouldn’t take part at this event! I’m not amused that Kazakhstan is taking part, too. This country belongs to Asia and should take part at the Asian Song Contest.

Jai
Guest
Jai

I honestly don’t think these participations will transfer over to Eurovision The rules and regulations of Junior Eurovision differ in some ways from Eurovision. To be honest I think the EBU is letting Wales and Kazakhstan participate simply because they want a higher number of participants and the a lot of nations that participate in Eurovision have no interest at all in competing in Junior Eurovision

Lawrence Gibb
Guest
Lawrence Gibb

Re; the disunited Kingdom, perhaps a change of broadcaster would pick more credible entries. I loved our last two but acknowledge that they were too middle of the road for a contest that embraces so many styles.

Juan Cena
Guest
Juan Cena

That’s what I think. ITV would absolutely take Eurovision more serious than the Beeb has.

Jofan1
Guest
Jofan1

You forgot France in returning countries list! ”As well as the above, Junior Eurovision 2018 will also feature returning countries Albania, Armenia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and the Netherlands.”

Ugnius
Guest
Ugnius

This ‘returning’ means ‘participated in 2017’. France is mentioned two paragraphs above as country, who is making a comeback after being absent for 13 years

Rasmus
Guest
Rasmus

I can take that Kazakstan take part in ESC to but please EBU dont invite USA,Wales,Northern Ireland,Scotland,China or New Zeeland to Eurovison. It will destroy it. More is NOT better.

Erasmus
Guest
Erasmus

I agree I mean I love that Kazakhstan is in, because they are in all European sports competitions. And I don’t mind N. Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England – since they all have their own culture also language. But yeah not New Zealand, China… especially not USA – they would ruin everything. I’m also against Australia participating even tho they send very good songs, but I guess it’s fine with them as well, as long Turkey, Slovakia, BiH and micronations don’t want to return.

Lawrence Gibb
Guest
Lawrence Gibb

Thank you, Erasmus As. a Scot I would love to see an entry from Alba. We wouldn’t mind being stuck in the semis either because we’ve perfected the role of plucky loser. I don’t necessarily agree that more isn’t better. The inclusion of new countries after 1993 and again in 2004 put new life into the contest. I wouldn’t worry about China, the US et al. They’re not that interested.

perrs
Guest
perrs

EBU loves money, because that we have Australia and Kazahstan. And we know that 24 points every year go to Russia, 20 to Azerbaijan, 16 to Georgia…

Juan Cena
Guest
Juan Cena

Uh, where did Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan finish in the Grand Final this year?

Eurovision fan since 2014
Guest
Eurovision fan since 2014

Guys and gals, we’re gonna hear the Azeri language for the first time ever *. * aint that great?

Thiago
Guest
Thiago

Fantastic news! How exactly does it differ from Turkish?

James
Guest
James

Turkish and Azeri are related varieties of a common language. Both are mutually intelligible (along with Turkmen), but to a certain degree. There are significant differences, from orthography to loanwords, to word usage, etc. that make both languages distinct from each other.

LiGhts
Guest
LiGhts

I wouldn’t include Turkmen, as I can understand Crimean Tatar better than Turkmen.

Kaan
Guest
Kaan

@Thiago I am a Turk and I don’t understand Azerbaijani. There are similarities, but they have some letters/sounds in their language that we don’t have.

LiGhts
Guest
LiGhts

@Kaan, we all are turks. You are just a citizen of Turkey 🙂

LiGhts
Guest
LiGhts

@Thiago, Azerbaijani here. Azerbaijani and Turkish are 90% mutually intelligible .
If you can speak Azerbaijani e.g , you’ll have no problems understanding Turkish. Of course there are some differences, the same words may mean yet another thing.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Also Kazakhstan will perform in Kazakh language. It is Turkic language, as well. 🙂

Roma
Guest
Roma

We already heard that in 2012 and 2013. :p

Eurovision fan since 2014
Guest
Eurovision fan since 2014

@Roma

Yeah I figured it out later while I was checking Azeri JESC history, I’ve been following Eurovision since 2014 and JESC since 2016 so I guess I should educate a little about the past 🙂 thanks for noticing!

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

That basically means Kazakhstan will debut at ESC soon. I wonder if they will join as an associate member: for being so far from Central Europe, hosting the event in Astana or Almaty (in the case of a Kazakh victory) would be very expensive in terms of logistics. So perhaps, joining as an associate member, just like Australia, would prevent them from hosting the contest.
The fact that Kazakhstan is also an European country may be an excuse to avoid accepting other countries in the contest as associate members, such as China and New Zealand.

James
Guest
James

The Kazakh broadcaster, Khabar Agency, is already an associate member of the EBU so it doesn’t have to undergo that process again just to participate in a Eurovision event when invited. And Kazakhstan itself, while having territory in what constitutes as the eastern fringes of Europe is very much a Central Asian country geographically.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

I know. That’s why I said they could participate as an associate member.

Kvinna
Guest
Kvinna

I’m curious as to the EBU’s addition of Kazakhstan and Wales. It leaves me to wonder if the EBU is desperate to add more nations as many nations like Switzerland or San Marino may have a growing disinterest in the show after years of no qualification or to look for nations who would be dedicated to the contest

beccaboo1212
Guest

If Turkey doesn’t join JESC next year, maybe 2020 or later.

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

Honestly if Turkey doesn’t even want to join the adult ESC, it’s probably they don’t want join JESC as well, considering Turkey is a very conservative and religious country and JESC is sometimes seen as “little girls trying to be sexy” or “children imitating adults”, which is definitely sad.

And considering we have Erdogan ruling Turkey for 4 more years, it probably won’t happen soon.

Tusán
Guest

Turkey WON’T be back. Get it through your heads, guys.

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

2018 has been an amazing year for the Eurovision events! With a record of 19 countries and 2 debuts at Junior Eurovision, an amazing show given by Portugal in the adult contest where 43 countries (the record) participated and Eurovision Young Musicians with 1 debut and 7 countries returning and a Semi-Final round introduced. Also, let’s not forget the vote to decide Kosovo’s membership.

Definitely incredible!

Sophie Adelaide
Guest
Sophie Adelaide

THIS IS GOING TO BE GREAT!!! And to think we only had about 10 countries in 2012! Something happend to JESC in 2014… IT BECAME RELEVANT AGAIN!!! AND KAZACHSTAN??? WALES??? FRANCE???? I WILL WATCH THIS WITH SOOO MUCH HAPPY EMOTIONS YAAAAY!!???????????????

Cocooo
Guest
Cocooo

Gagauzia isn’t a country

David
Guest
David

Wales participating in JESC will hopefully open up the opportunity for other countries that form the UK to take part individually. However, I doubt Alba would take part as its part of the BBC and STV would be able to afford it and the same for UTV in Northern Ireland. I can’t see the UK nations participating individually at adult Eurovision because the BBC won’t give up its automatic final place and either pay for 4 entries or just pay for England and let the other countries broadcasters organise for Scotland, Wales and NI. This would also open the door… Read more »

jdplatt
Guest
jdplatt

CARDIFF 2019

beccaboo1212
Guest

Astana 2020

Liam
Guest

So happy to see my country debut in JESC; the very Welsh country that is Wales. It’s a small country with huge potential and it’s a great opportunity to show off our talents and our ancient language which can’t be done as part of the UK with the BBC in charge for ESC (if they prove me wrong and send an entry in Welsh to ESC I will happily take it back). As unlikely as it it is, I would love to see Wales, Scotland, NI and England send separate entries to all Eurovision contests one day.
Cymru am byth!

Lila
Guest
Lila

While I still have mixed feelings on Australia’s participation in Eurovision, this is absolutely a step in the right direction to right the EBU’s wrongs regarding that. The fact Australia was allowed to participate in Eurovision over Kazakhstan came across as xenophobic and classist, as they had the same credentials despite Australia having more money and being Western. But with Kazakhstan in Eurovision this could drive me to be *a little* more accepting of Australia in it. I definitely hope they get invited back year after year.

Kirby
Guest
Kirby

Thank you very much, Robyn, for this amazing news! It sounds refreshing for both JESC and ESC events. I do know Wales can’t compete in ESC, but it’d be awesome to witness a debuting country soon.

Manic
Guest
Manic

19 countries… this is blowing my mind!!

Alex
Guest
Alex

K I’m being honest but I totally did not expect Kazakhstan to enter the contest.

Ariso Light
Guest
Ariso Light

I’m so happy that Kazakhstan has finally been invited to participate in a Eurovision event! <333

Marc
Guest
Marc

Good news! 19 countries is great.
Now they have to go back to old system voting (like 2015) with televote to avoid having a random winner and results like the last two years. Jon Ola has not been doing any favour to this contest.

allexo
Guest
allexo

19 countries
15,000 people in an arena
Kazakhstan in an Eurovision event
Azerbaijan, France, Israel are back in Junior Eurovision
Wales is by itself.
This is gonna be one of if not THE best edition of JESC ever.
Also Belarus hosts Junior Eurovision very well and JESC 2010 was one of the best editions ever!
Im so excited

beccaboo1212
Guest

If Wales or Kazakhstan don’t get chosen to host Junior Eurovision next year, maybe they’ll bid to host in 2020.

Official Junior Eurovision
Guest
Official Junior Eurovision

beccaboo1212 – Russia official applied to host JESC 2019 …… and after their winning in 2017 I guess they will do it.

beccaboo1212
Guest

Then Wales and Kazakhstan could submit bids to host Junior Eurovision 2020. 🙂

Ver
Guest
Ver

so the JESC arena will have 10,000+ seats and most of the arenas that allegedly will host in Israel are between 9,000 to 8,000
does that mean that the JESC will be bigger that the normal eurvision?

RICK
Guest

19 countries mixed with a 10,000 arena means JESC 18 will be the biggest and the best yet!

Eastman
Guest
Eastman

If the EBU is wooing an Asian country, can this be see as the final nail in the coffin of Eurovision Asia?

Timur
Guest
Timur

9% of Kazakhstan is actually european.
0% of Australia, Armenia, and Israel is european.
Please troll somewhere else.

Mark
Guest
Mark

90% of Australians are of European decent.

Lila
Guest
Lila

77% of the United States are of European descent, 74% of Canada and New Zealand. But they are not in Eurovision. “Descent” (don’t forget all the people descended from Spaniards, Portuguese, and Italians in Latin America) means nothing it’s about geography and culture.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Girl, please!!!

Official Junior Eurovision
Guest
Official Junior Eurovision

Timur – I don’t think Eastman is trolling ……his question is okay. The official announcement in August 2017 was, that the Eurovision Asia Song Contest will start in October 2018. Almost no news since 1 year. I think, that this event will not gonna happen this year (they still haven’t set a host) – I think they need more time …..meanwhile Kazakhstan can participate in JESC. Where is the problem ?

beccaboo1212
Guest

Timur – Armenia is located between Europe, Asia, AND the Middle East. Israel is a Middle Eastern country, and Australia was explored by Europeans a few centuries ago. 🙂

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

And most importantly, both Armenia and Israel are full members of the EBU. And Australia has associate membership just as Kazakhstan.

Paula
Guest
Paula

@beccaboo1212 Armenia doesn’t have any land in Europe. If there were, then Georgia would have been fully European. It’s only Azerbaijan and Georgia that have small territory (northern parts of both countries) in Europe from Caucasus trio.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

oh look, it’s 2015 all over again.

Jai
Guest
Jai

Armenia and Israel ARE in the Eurovision Broadcasting Area , which qualifies them to be full members of the EBU though. Australia was invited because of the large following Eurovision has had in the country for decades. No portion of Kazakhstan in the EBA and the contest doesn’t have the following there like is does in Australia to justify participation.

beccaboo1212
Guest

Let’s see what Wales and Kazakhstan will bring at Junior Eurovision not only this year, but also 2019, 2020, etc.

Boycott Jerusalem 2019
Guest
Boycott Jerusalem 2019

That’s amazing! Looking forward to what Kazakhstan has to offer.

Official Junior Eurovision
Guest
Official Junior Eurovision

To be honest with you guys, this is …………………..AMAZING! Welcome back Azerbaijan, France, Israel and welcome Wales and Kazakhstan.
Now my absolute favorite and The Voice Kids Ukraine winner ***Daneliya Tulyeshova*** (she is from Kazakhstan) is able to slay all over the stage.
I am so happy right now and would be more happy, if my country Germany would debut in Junior Eurovision – ladies and gentlemen, it is time to do that !

Héctor
Guest
Héctor

I would like to see both Wales and Kazakhistan in Eurovision, but I’m afraid the later will give its 12pts to Russia. I’m tired of the Eastern Block and the Russian diaspora. Kazakh participating will make it even easier to qualify or place in the top 10 with very average songs. So I have mixed feelings with this.

Snowflake
Guest
Snowflake

WOW 19!! Thats amazing, good job EBU! I am so happy France Azerbaijan and Israel returned. I am also curious to see what Kazakhstan and Wales are going to bring up to the show.

JackTheBoy
Guest
JackTheBoy

To be honest I am not so happy with Kazakhstan’s debut. But I am glad to see France, Israel, Azerbaijan, and Wales in the list. It’s going to be interesting. 🙂

Porky
Guest
Porky

that of course is your opinion. idk why you being downvoted like that!?

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

I’m already rooting for Wales and Kazakhstan for the top 2 xD
Just imagine one of them winning, that would be insane!
Another unlikely thing is Israel winning JESC and becoming the first ever country to win both ESC and JESC in the same year.
However, judging by Israel’s 2 efforts in the contest, we probably won’t be seeing an Israeli victory there :3
Also, at least Azerbaijan qualified for the grand final of JESC xDDD

ESCYves
Guest
ESCYves

they also participate in Eurovision Young Musicians, so maybe

Laura
Guest
Laura

I believe, Kazakhstan has a large chance to win.
Our little singer Daneliya Tuleshova won The Voice in Ukrain in December, 2017. Judges were Wowed!?
So can’t wait to see. The contest will be interesting!

Cameron
Guest
Cameron

Didn’t expect Kazakhstan to join, extremely happy that they did, hopefully it opens the door for them to participate in Israel. What did Belarus do to get 2 debuts and 3 returning countries? Hopefully we’ll see JESC do nothing but grow in the future

West
Guest
West

Maybe the EBU is worried that some countries will boycott ESC next year in Israel, and they don’t want less participants, so they’re planning on inviting Kazakhstan and now they’re testing the waters by inviting them to JEST.

DenizNL
Guest
DenizNL

I am so happy with 19 countries!
Didn’t expect Kazakhstan to be there, but I am interested to see what they will bring.
Also very interested to see what France and Wales will do.
I am glad Israel is back, I didn’t expect that to happen.
Really happy Azerbaijan is back, I loved their 2 entries.
I am sad about Ukraine, we could’ve 20 countries participating.

This could be the best JESC edition ever! Thank you for covering this.

Official Junior Eurovision
Guest
Official Junior Eurovision

DenizNL – with Ukraine and Cyprus we could have 21 😉

DenizNL
Guest
DenizNL

I did expect Cyprus to withdraw sadly.

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

Well, considering the financial troubles the Ukrainian broadcoaster currently has, it’s probably the best to save money so that Ukraine can participate in the ESC 2019 in Israel. Hopefully Ukraine, Cyprus and maybe Bulgaria would come back to JESC soon!

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

I literally screamed and jumped when I found out that 19 countries are in it, and the fact that we see such a long list of debutants and returnees really gives me hope that this years JESC will have a great production, because BTRC obiously showed all these broadcasters something that made them want to return! Kazakhstan and Wales are incredibly welcome additions to the contest, and I’m happy to see so many Western and Eastern- European countries taking part, given that Eastern Europe mostly dominated the list of JESC participants. Im hoping for a spectacular show and I think… Read more »

Hrvatska
Guest
Hrvatska

Thank you israel

Official Junior Eurovision
Guest
Official Junior Eurovision

Hrvatska – yes thank you Israel and thank you EBU ?

KESC
Guest
KESC

Let’s hope for Kazakhstan at Eurovision then!! Astana 2020 coming? 😀

Turkic JESC Voting Block
Guest
Turkic JESC Voting Block

‘Almaty 2020’

Paul
Guest
Paul

Wales?! WTAF!

bingocharts
Guest
bingocharts

This is great news! Hopefully this number of competing countries will make the show even better

beccaboo1212
Guest

I’m pretty sure it will. 🙂 In fact, this serves as a perfect way to ensure the contest’s longevity. 🙂

bingocharts
Guest
bingocharts

Let’s hope so! The junior version could definitely use some more countries (and therefore better viewing rates) to survive, but I am pretty sure those rates will be much better this year