Friday, February 29, 2008

Eurovision Buries its Head in the Balkan Sand

I was worried sick.

What with all the burning of EU flags and rioting in the streets of Belgrade, I feared the worst.

With the Eurovision Song Contest only three months away, there seemed every prospect that recent political upheavals in Kosovo might jeopardize the contest, to be held in the Serbian capital on May 24th.

Thankfully, the organisers have reassured Europe's music-loving masses that, independence or not, the show must go on - in Belgrade.

The official statement from the European Broadcasting Union acknowledges that it has of course been following the recent development [sic] in Serbia but has concluded that the recent irregularities in Belgrade will not cause any delays in the event in May." Hurray!! I'd hate any irregularities - the formation of a new state or the subsequent rioting of its disaffected ethnic minority - to delay the fun.

Furthermore, we are assured, the EBU has no plans to move the 53rd contest from Belgrade and will, furthermore, obtain a security guarantee from the government of Serbia regarding a complete and absolute safety [sic] of all participants and visitors.

Phew! So no duffing up the Albanian entrant, then?

Certainly not, continues the EBU, who are giving its full support to the [host broadcaster] RTS in producing a successful Eurovision Song Contest in May.

Well, at least that's clear. I can book my flights and accommodation with a clear mind now. And I suppose that if the Serbian government can't provide "a security guarantee" for their own citizens in Kosovo, the next best thing is to provide one for the visiting musicians, singers and media types from Belgium, Latvia and Portugal.

I do wonder, however, how the Former Republic of Yugoslavia's well-rehearsed block voting will work this time and what new artistic alliances will be formed under the spotlights of the vast Belgrade Arena? Stronger-than-average antagonism towards Britain's entry on the part of Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, methinks.

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