Associate EBU Members joining Eurovision are nothing new. Canada took part in Eurovision Young Dancers back in 1987 and 1989. Australia joined Eurovision and Junior Eurovision in 2015 and has never looked back. And in 2018, Kazakhstan surprised everyone by debuting at Junior Eurovision.
Despite the country’s success at the junior contest, the EBU has continually dismissed suggestions that the Central Asian country will join the adult version. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped Khabar Agency — one of the largest networks in the country — from lobbying year after year to be a part of the party.
A news feature on Khabar 24 claims that Europeans are calling for Kazakhstan’s inclusion in the contest due to their success in Junior Eurovision. The Chairman of the Board Erlan Bekkhozhin said:
“[Karakat] made the whole world talk about Kazakhstan already for the second time. Last year, it was Erzhan Maksim, and this time it was the girl Karakat. And the result of those two beautiful performances appeared to be that European countries issued petitions saying that Kazakhstan should start to participate in the adult Eurovision.”
It’s unclear exactly what petitioning entails under his definition of the word. But Khabar is keen to see this as another step down the path to Kazakh representation. Junior Eurovision 2020 runner-up Karakat Bashanova voiced her enthusiasm too:
“I would like to participate in adult Eurovision, but I would be singing in a totally different genre and I would have a completely different style.”
The EBU has toyed with the idea of extending an invitation to Kazakhstan. Two years ago, Jon Ola Sand stated that the inclusion of Kazakhstan is “part of a broader discussion that we have at the EBU”. However, they have continually rejected the idea of Kazakhstan becoming an active member of the EBU, saying in 2017, “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”.
Back in August, the EBU confirmed “at the present time, there are no plans” to invite Kazakhstan to Rotterdam. However, similar statements were made about Kazakhstan and Junior Eurovision back in 2018. And as we know, anything can happen.
Kazakhstan at Junior Eurovision
It is undeniable that Kazakhstan has taken their introduction to Junior Eurovision with great enthusiasm. All three of their entrants have been fancied as potential winners, and they’ve placed runner-up the last two years.
Their latest entry, “Forever” by Karakat Bashanova, carried an extra emotional weight for the young singer as she was honouring her early departed father. The 12-year-old was open about her difficulty in performing the song, but said that thinking about how proud her father would be if he could hear her gave her the courage she needed. She wore a very spectacular dress on the night, with over 133 metres of fabric and a weight of 20kg.
After her second place finish, Karakat expressed joy at her performance, saying that although she didn’t win, she is sure her father heard her song. The Kazakh media also reacted positively to the result, calling it a “victory for the whole of Kazakhstan!”
Kazakhstan is a country with substantial talent, and while their addition will definitely be a source of controversy, it will be very interesting to see the mark they make on the contest.
So what do you think? Will you be excited to see Kazakhstan in the adult contest? Who would you like to see representing them? Let us know below!