North Macedonia’s broadcaster MRT has announced they will be reviewing aspects of the country’s participation in Eurovision. This follows the controversy over an artwork resembling the Bulgarian flag being shown in the music video for Vasil’s Eurovision 2021 song “Here I Stand”.

Meri Popova, North Macedonia’s Head of Delegation, released a statement outlining the broadcaster’s plans:

“Macedonian Radio Television has established an internal commission to review and analyse all aspects arising from public reactions related to the Eurovision Song Contest. The public service broadcaster will also take into account the obligations noted in the participation license, as well as the obligations arising from the membership in the European Broadcasting Union, where MRT is an integral part of the public service association in the European Union. The public will be additionally informed about the final decision of MRT.”

Wiwibloggs has checked with the broadcaster and has confirmed they did issue this statement.

But while MRT has issued their statement, there’s still a lot that is unclear. The broadcaster has not explained exactly what they mean by reviewing and analysing “all aspects arising from public reactions related to the Eurovision Song Contest.”

Some Eurovision fans have interpreted the statement as implying that Vasil Garvanliev may be replaced as North Macedonia’s act for Eurovision 2021, however the broadcaster has not said anything to suggest this is being considered.

The debate around North Macedonia’s entry for Eurovision 2021

The announcement follows several days of debate surrounding North Macedonia’s entry for Eurovision 2021. Vasil is due to represent North Macedonia with his self-written ballad “Here I Stand”.

Earlier in the week, the music video for the song was replaced with a new version. The video — which was shot in North Macedonia’s national art gallery — had shown an artwork that resembled the flag of Bulgaria.

Some North Macedonian people felt it was inappropriate for North Macedonia’s Eurovision video to include an artwork that resembled the flag of Bulgaria.

Others from North Macedonia picked up on an interview from early 2020 that Vasil had with wiwibloggs. In the interview, Vasil talked to William about his life story and mentioned he had both Macedonian and Bulgarian citizenship. He explained he was from the town of Strumica in the eastern part of the country very close to the Bulgarian border and also had an ancestral connection with Bulgaria.

Because of this, some people from North Macedonia have felt it was inappropriate for North Macedonia’s Eurovision act to also have Bulgarian citizenship and have called for Vasil to be replaced.

But despite the criticism, Vasil has also received an outpouring of support from fans, from both North Macedonia and abroad.

Fans have launched a petition showing support for Vasil as North Macedonia’s Eurovision representative. So far over 500 people have signed the petition.

Vasil responds

Yesterday Vasil issued a video statement, saying in part:

“I am a music ambassador, and in music there is no religion, politics, orientation, race or color. I had absolutely no intentions to hurt anybody. Quite the opposite!

“I am so proud of this project which not only embodies me, but my country and culture – musicians and featured artists in the gallery.

“I do not apologise for being me. I never will – I didn’t have a choice in that. However, if I hurt ANYBODY in ANY WAY, from the bottom of my heart … I am sorry. Forgive me.”

Most recently, Vasil posted a tweet, simply saying “Voice for the Voiceless”. It was met with many responses of support and kindness from Eurovision fans.

Read more North Macedonia Eurovision news here

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