When does “No Politics” become Ignorance?
Eurovision was formed after the devastating World War 2, which left Europe torn and in tension. 13 countries joined together for a shared love of music, and to show that their culture had survived the war. From then on, The Eurovision Song Contest has stood for unity and peace. Part of this is their very strict “No Politics at Eurovision” rule. There have of course been attempts to bring politics into the contest, but they have all usually been shut down. Iceland was handed a hefty fine after their 2019 band held Palestinian flags during the final in Israel, and Belarus was removed from the EBU and Eurovision indefinitely due to multiple political song entry’s.
However, when it comes to real world conflict, not much is done in Eurovision in order to uphold the “No Politics” rule. When Armenia was invaded by Azerbaijan in 2020, or when Georgia was invaded by Russia in 2015, the invading nations suffered no consequence. Russia that year even sent an anthem calling for world peace. So, when Ukraine was invaded by Russia just days ago, many were angered, but not surprised at the EBU’s response to do nothing about it.
The EBU faced major backlash for this move, so much so that countries began declaring they would withdraw if Russia was allowed to compete. Some pointed out the fact that Eurovision is used by many countries as a form of soft power and cutting Russia off for the contest would deal a major blow to Russia. Eurovision released a new statement days later saying Russia has been kicked from this year’s contest, and hours later, the EBU. Russia, like Belarus, is now effectively banned from the contest.
I, like many others, were relieved at the news. As the EBU said, Russia competing would destroy the point of Eurovision in the first place. Some on twitter took this opportunity to call for more bans from the likes of Israel and Azerbaijan, but I believe they are missing the point. Russia’s invasion threatens the peace that Europe has for so long struggled to keep. The Ukraine invasion caused the likes of Switzerland to break neutrality for the first time in known history. If Russia was allowed to compete, it would be a mockery of the contest’s core values, and a mockery of Europe as a whole.