It already seems certain that the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest will take place without Georgia due to the recent conflict with Russia over the two breakaway regions. Rumours are today surfacing that Poland may join with it’s Baltic neighbours in considering a withdrawal from the 2009 edition.
Since the fall of the USSR, nearly 17 years ago, the relationship between the Russian Federation and most of the former members of the Communist block has been an uneasy one. Only countries like Belarus and Turkmenistan have retained close ties with the Kremlin. Russia has continued to publicly announce it’s displeasure at the perceived move westward of countries like Ukraine and Georgia. Ukraine’s Orange revolution of late 2004 and Georgia’s planned membership of NATO have increased tensions over the past few years. The latter has been attributed by many political analysts as the main reason for Russian occupation of the two Georgian separatist regions last month.
Estonia was the first of the Baltic states to suggest sitting-out the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, in Russia, as a show of solidarity with Georgia. The proposal has since found favour in Latvia and Lithuania and it now looks likely that Poland could also be contemplating a similar action. TheNews.pl is reporting today that officials at the national broadcaster, TVP, are entertaining the idea of boycotting the annual music contest.
The EBU’s Director of Eurovision, Svante Stockselius, has already moved to ensure that the contest not be politicised and that the war in Georgia not be a deciding factor when these countries review their participation. It seems however that his plea may fall on deaf ears as more countries at least mull over the possibility of taking a year out in protest.
It will not be known for sure until the December deadline (for declaration of intent to compete in the 2009 contest) which countries have actually decided to make a stand against Russia’s actions by opting out of the Eurovision Song Contest for the forthcoming year. Whatever happens, the conflict in Georgia looks set to be a headache for the EBU until the end of the 2009 contest.