Stockholm, May 12, AZERTAC
Event Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Sietse Bakker has commented on the raising of the flag of the so-called Nagorno-Karbakah Republic during the first semifinal by the Armenian representative. “The Reference Group looked into the matter. It is so serious breach of the rules of the Eurovision song contest. EBU Reference Group has decided to give Armenian public television sanction. It will be decided what that sanction is in the June meeting of the reference group. The Group has also issued strong statement warning Armenian public television not to do this again in the final. Reference Group has also said in the statement that it will not tolerate any more breach of the rules from the Armenian delegation. If they do that again they may risk disqualification. I think that is good that Reference group takes the rules very seriously. Anyone who breaches these rules will have to face with the consequences.”
The Eurovision Event Supervisor also highlighted the recent tension in the conflict: “We understand that the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan especially in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is very tense and has been so for many years. I also understand the emotions a lot of people feel around this topic and because of that the reference group and EBU said that showing this flag is considered to be a political statement. That indeed we did not tolerate. Eurovision is a non-political event and should remain non-political. There will be strong reaction from the reference group to Armenian television.”
“Eurovision is not a place to show brandishing. We had already talk with the Armenian delegation. They were sent the letter of the decision of the Reference Group to impose the sanction and also the warning that they should not do that again in the final that will have much worse consequences. Of course, we will also do our job and take our responsibility to make sure that this cannot happen again in the final by doing extra checks in the flags that are being brought into the green room. And also by working close with the director of the show to make sure that if there will be the flag in the green rom that for some reason contains the political message. They will simply don’t show that picture we will show something other to the viewers,” Bakker said.
“We wanted to be more tolerant to local and regional flags. For those contestants that come from different regions, we did not want the Eurovision song contest was used for political purposes. Flag of Nagorno-Karabakh referring very tense situation between the two countries and has very political message in itself. That is why in the statement we have chosen such strong words in response to this behavior which for us is unacceptable. Brandishing the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh is not fine. I think what is important for Azerbaijani viewers is to understand that how important we find it. Eurovision song contest is a non-political event. Everyone hopes that situation will at some point be resolved. Everyone can live in peace. As long as that is not case. We strongly defend those values,” he added.