Armenia, Karabakh's flag incident on Eurovision

Armenia announces its withdrawal from the Eurovision Song Contest

Armenia will not be at Eurovision due to the serious political and economic crisis that the country faces since its defeat in Karabakh.

Armenia has announced that it is withdrawing from the Eurovision Song Contest that is scheduled to take place this year in Rotterdam, after having previously confirmed that it would be in the 2021 edition after the festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement addressed to the organisers of Eurovision, the Armenian public television corporation (AMPTV) explained that the events that have taken place in the country since then make it impossible to organise their participation in the event, whose grand finale is scheduled for the end of May.

“After thoughtful and detailed discussions, the Public Television Corporation of Armenia has decided to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, taking into account the latest events (in Armenia), the short time left for production, as well as other reasons that make an adequate participation of Armenia in Eurovision 2021 impossible”, announced the AMPTV in its statement.

For his part, Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor of the festival, regretted the withdrawal of Armenia – which joins other countries such as Hungary or Montenegro – after hearing the news: “We understand the reasons for its withdrawal and we will miss his professional and dedicated delegation in Rotterdam. We look forward to welcoming Armenia back in 2022,” said Österdahl.

The reasons for the withdrawal of Armenia from Eurovision

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the main reason that has led Armenia to cancel its participation this year in Eurovision has been the deep and serious political and economic crisis that this small Balkan nation is going through, with almost daily protests in the streets and even a coup attempt by the army.

The crisis was sparked after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was forced to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan in November that led to the withdrawal of Armenia from almost all of Karabakh, a region that is part of Azerbaijan but has been occupied by Armenia since the 90s alleging historical reasons. The conflict resulted in thousands of deaths on both sides.

Azerbaijan has since denounced that the damage inflicted by Armenia during the three-decade occupation of Karabakh amounts to $50 billion, including the systematic destruction by the occupiers of the ecological, historical and cultural heritage of the region, with at least 700 historical monuments, 927 libraries, 22 museums and 4 theatres destroyed during the occupation, in addition to several cities completely razed in Karabakh.

Armenia had managed to qualify for the 2020 edition with singer Athena Manoukian and her song “Chains on you”, but the festival had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Armenia, which has never won Eurovision since debuting for the 1st time in the contest in 2006, and which in 2016 starred an incident for displaying the unacknowledged flag of Karabakh, had not actually decided yet whether Manoukian was still the official candidate to represent the country this year. Turkey abandoned its participation in Eurovision after 2012 due to disagreements over the voting system in the contest.