Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Will Armenia actually be in Baku?

Today word came through that we can expect to see 43 countries in Baku for ESC 2012. While the participation list was almost a month late (we would normally expect it between 25th Decemeber and the first week of January), the big question answered today was Will Armenia be in Baku? And the answer is yes.

But what does this actually tell us? Well all that this means is that Armenia have stated they are going to Baku and they have paid the participation fee. Now this is fairly important. As we all know there is considerable tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan this was made clear in the 2009 contest when issues over the postcards arose. However by getting this far Armenia have shown that they are prepared to come to Baku. The biggest concern is safety. Armenians don't come into Azerbaijan and (up until recently) even if you have an Armenian stamp on your passport you could not enter Azerbaijan. These rules will have to be relaxed given that some fans traveled to JESC in Armenia last year. This shows the level of intolerance that exists.

So in spite of the EBU's announcement, the HoD for Armenia stated today that even though they are on the list, they are not 100% sure that they will go, citing safety concerns as an issue. While Slovakia may have decided to come to Eurovision last year as withdrawing would be to expensive, Armenia may opt to stay at home and as I say "be live chickens".

While I am not against Azerbaijan hosting the contest, I do believe that the EBU will have to work harder to ensure that Azerbaijan plays ball. They may even have to be prepared to change the venue at short notice. But whether Armenia are in Baku or not may show us just how far the EBU are prepared to go to keep politics out of Eurovision

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