I shared Efe Sevin's passion for Eurovision... before coming to the US, that is. But since it's such a big deal back in the region, I thought it merits a mention, especially after this week's events.
I suggest you read Efe's posts on what Eurovision is and its "significance". Here, I'll just note that it's a great opportunity for cultural diplomacy and place branding, as well as a venue where national sympathies, "friendships", and priorities are expressed. Inevitably.
Last year, Azerbaijan won the contest hosted by Germany [hmm... I'll be honest and say that they were my favorite], meaning that Eurovision 2012 would be held in Baku.
Not only did this turn the spotlight on Azerbaijan's civil freedoms and human rights record, but it also raised the question of what Armenia - whose citizens, and therefore fans, cannot travel to Azerbaijan - is going to do this year.
Azerbaijan has already started full-scale preparations, in terms of construction of the promised Baku Crystal Hall as well as international PR (or should we say, "public diplomacy"?):
As for Armenia... After much ado, it decided to officially withdraw from the contest this week. But they did so not with dignity and honor, but after much humiliation and ridiculous attempts at cover-ups related to domestic issues. In short: pathetic.
That aside, it was also earlier this week that Russia decided on its representatives in Baku: Buranovskiye Babushki. You have to appreciate this!
I think Moscow might need to start preparations for hosting Eurovision in 2013, again...
And... no pun intended?