Of Guns and Glamour, Snipers and Sequins: Eurovision 2012 proves to be more than just song and dance
By Sung In Marshall
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual televised competition featuring music acts from 56 countries in and around Europe, which draws an estimated 125 million viewers from around the world. Eurovision has given Azerbaijan a unique opportunity to showcase its country when it hosts the event in May. But behind the glitz and glamour, sequins and songs lies real-world conflict. This year’s contest comes amid ever-present tensions and continual low-level armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. In such a tense environment, even the apparently innocent fun of Eurovision is politicized and politically sensitive.
On February 24, a group of Armenian pop singers launched a campaign to boycott the Eurovision contest. In their letter, they expressed their refusal to “appear in a country that is well-known for mass killings and massacres of Armenians, in a country where anti-Armenian sentiments have been elevated to the level of state policy.” This campaign was launched amid anger at the reported shooting of an Armenian soldier by an Azerbaijani sniper, but it ran into controversy after officials announced that he had actually been killed by a fellow serviceman.