Ever since Turkey withdrew from Eurovision after the 2012 contest, there has been much hope that the country might make a return. Now for the first time, the EBU have put out a statement confirming they are “in contact” with Turkish state broadcaster TRT and are aiming to bring the country back to Eurovision.
This follows on from comments made by İbrahim Eren, the Chairman and Director General of TRT, who noted that discussions about Eurovision were back on the table. Eren’s remarks have been featured widely in Turkish press over the last week.
EBU confirms aim to bring Turkey back to Eurovision
The full statement from the EBU published on eurovision.tv reads as follows:
“Although the EBU’s Turkish Member TRT hasn’t participated in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2012 we know there is still huge interest in Turkey in the Contest underlined by the large amount of engagement on our social channels from Turkish fans.
With that in mind, we are in contact with TRT with the aim of bringing them back into the competition.
TRT has made a huge contribution to the Contest in the past, including hosting the event in Istanbul in 2004, and we would very much welcome them back should they decide to participate again.”
This is the first time that the EBU has specifically stated they are actively in discussions that aim to bring Turkey back to Eurovision.
The EBU previously put the emphasis on TRT themselves, noting that they would be welcome back should they wish to participate.
In their statement, the EBU notes that, despite being absent from Eurovision for nine years, there is still a lot of interest in the contest from Turkish fans, particularly on social media. It appears the EBU wants to tap into this engagement and give Eurovision fans in Turkey the opportunity to cheer for their own country once again.
@wiwibloggs_officialWould you like to see ##Turkey back at ##Eurovision? 🇹🇷 ##ESC2022 @jonathanvautrey♬ Everyway That I Can (Special Bubbling Mix) – Sertab Erener
TRT’s General Director İbrahim Eren previously confirmed to Turkish newspaper Milliyet that talks between the broadcaster and the EBU are taking place. Whether this will result in Turkey’s return or not is yet unknown, even to him.
“TRT made a decision on this issue in the past: ‘We’re not going to participate until the scoring system changes’. Our Board of Directors is sticking to this decision, but in the meantime we are also discussing ‘Eurovision’. A very good new director from Northern Europe took over Eurovision. I think he’s been very successful this year. After a long time, they had a good contest. Our colleagues are observing the new arrival. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Apparently, the Turkish broadcaster is fonder of the new Executive Supervisor, Martin Österdahl. It would be a big achievement if he were able to secure a Turkish return on his second year on duty. His predecessor, Jon Ola Sand, did a very similar thing with Italy’s return in 2011.
@wiwibloggs_officialWhat’s your favourite ##Eurovision song from ##Turkey 🇹🇷? ##sertaberener ##eurovision2022♬ original sound – wiwibloggs
Turkey at Eurovision: 10 years since they left
Turkey debuted at Eurovision in 1975 and went on to win the contest in 2003 with Sertab Erener’s “Everyway That I Can”. They hosted the contest the following year, and also picked up second place in 2010 with maNga’s “We Could Be the Same”.
However, Turkey left the competition after the 2012 contest in Baku. A number of reasons have been given over the years for Turkey’s absence. At first, it was a disagreement with the new voting method (the inclusion of juries) and the Big 5 rule that allows the largest financial contributors to automatically qualify to the grand final each year. Although the latter is still in place, the voting system has changed significantly in the last few years and it has not brought Turkey back.
Another reason was the rampant LGBT-phobia shown by some of the broadcaster’s key managers. Mr Eren himself stirred controversy with his comments on Conchita Wurst. In 2018, he said: “As a public broadcaster, we also cannot broadcast live at 9 p.m. — when children are still awake — someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt, do not believe in genders and says that he is both a man and a woman.”
What do you make of the EBU’s statement? Are you happy to hear they’re actively aiming to bring Turkey back to Eurovision? Sound off in the comments below!