Kosovo‘s bid to become a member of the European Broadcasting Union appears to have taken a step back. Albanian media is reporting that broadcaster RTK’s membership bid will not be on the agenda at the EBU’s next meeting this month.
Magazina.al reports that despite earlier expectations that RTK’s membership bid would be discussed at the EBU’s General Assembly meeting this month, this is no longer happening.
However, Kosovo’s membership bid is not off the agenda entirely. Magazina.al reports that that the issue will now be discussed at a General Assembly meeting in 2019. An EBU spokesperson is reported as saying, “This issue is being discussed by the EBU’s Executive Board and the vote is expected to take place in June next year.”
Magazina.al claims that the postponement was made at the request of RTK itself. It follows Kosovo’s recent unsuccessful bid to join the international policing organisation Interpol.
In order to join the EBU, RTK would need to win two-thirds of the vote from the EBU’s 56 member states. As it currently stands, 19 of the EBU’s current member states do not recognise Kosovo as an independent country. If those countries all voted against RTK’s membership bid, it would ensure Kosovo would not have the two-thirds majority it needs.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. However, Kosovo’s status is still disputed internationally and in diplomatic practice. Extreme tensions — political and territorial — exist between the Serbian government and the Albanian leadership of the Assembly of Kosovo. One manifestation of these tensions was the Kosovo War, which lasted from the end of 1998 until the middle of 1999.
A number of states whose broadcasters are EBU members do not recognise Kosovo as an independent country. As well as Serbia, this also includes Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Becoming a member of the European Broadcasting Union offers much more than just participation at the Eurovision Song Contest, such as access to major broadcast rights, technical and legal support, and knowledge sharing. However, getting EBU membership is the first step a country must take on its road to participating at Eurovision.
Since Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, its broadcaster has made it a goal to become part of the EBU and join the Eurovision family. Although it doesn’t yet have those rights, it did manage to participate in Eurovision Young Dancers in 2011. Fans have wondered if RTK could similarly be invited to the Song Contest as a non-member guest competitor.
In recent years, Kosovo has annually been named as a rumoured participant in the Eurovision Song Contest, but as RTK does not have membership of the EBU, they are not able to enter.
However, Kosovars have competed in the competition before, albeit for other countries. Recent examples include Rona Nishliu for Albania in 2012 and Lindita Halimi for Albania in 2017. Kosovo-born Serbian singer Nevena Božović performed as part of Moje 3 for Serbia in 2013.
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