Earlier this year, the EBU confirmed that Kazakhstan broadcaster Khabar Agency had again been given a guest invitation to participation in Junior Eurovision 2019. However, the EBU has now confirmed that this invitation will not extend to the Eurovision Song Contest 2020.
In a statement to ESCXTRA, an EBU spokesperson said, “We can confirm that we have no plans to invite Kazakhstan to participate in next year’s competition.”
Like Australia’s SBS, broadcaster Khabar Agency is an associate member of the EBU and so — in theory — the EBU’s reference group could give them a guest invitation to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The news follows a similar statement made last year, where the EBU also said that it had “no plans to extend [a guest invitation] to other Associate Members.”
The EBU’s statement makes it clear that Kazakhstan’s participation at Junior Eurovision 2019 does not mean automatic participation at Eurovision 2020. While the ESC Reference Group could potentially invite Khabar Agency to compete in Eurovision 2020, their statement confirms this is not on the cards.
It has long been known that Kazakhstan has been keen to get involved with Eurovision. In 2017, broadcaster Channel 31 claimed that Kazakhstan would be sending a delegation to Lisbon and would be debuting at Eurovision 2019. However, this debut did not happen.
Last year Eurovision Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand was asked about the possibility of Kazakhstan being given a guest invitiation to the Eurovision Song Contest. He responded, “Well, we should discuss whether we should be able to bring Kazakhstan — and our associate member in Kazakhstan — to Eurovision Song Contest. But this is a part of a broader discussion that we have at the EBU.”
Khabar Agency chairperson Alan Azhibayev also told local media last year that the broadcaster was aiming to become a full member of the EBU in order to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Azhibayev revealed that the broadcaster had been in talks with the EBU and that negotiations were ongoing. He explained, “There were big talks between the Minister of Information and Communications Dauren Abayev and the EBU management team … After Junior Eurovision we had meetings with them. I think they will come here to Kazakhstan. Negotiations will continue.”
For Kazakhstan to become a full member of the EBU, the broadcasting union would need to broaden its membership area. Currently Kazakhstan is outside the catchment area covered by the EBU.
Kazakhstan made their debut at Junior Eurovision 2019, where Daneliya Tuleshova placed sixth with “Ózińe sen”. This year Kazakhstan has internally selected The Voice Kids Russia singer Yerzhan Maxim.
What do you think? Should Kazakhstan be given a guest invitation to compete at Eurovision 2020? Should they be invited as an interval act? Or is the contest big enough as it is? Tell us your thoughts below!