STOCKHOLM — Armenia’s Eurovision 2016 representative Iveta Mukuchyan waved a flag of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) during the voting recap at last night’s first semifinal where she qualified for the final along with representatives of nine other nations, including Azerbaijan.

The presence of NKR flags and other attributes of the international unrecognized Armenian republic at Eurovision shows has long been an issue and organizers of the popular song contest held in Stockholm, Sweden, this year made conflicting statements ahead of the event last week.

According to what appeared to be their last clarification, the NKR flag was not banned at the competition that is known to strive to avoid politicization.

According to wiwibloggs.com, the world’s most read independent website devoted to Eurovision, the 29-year-old Germany-based Armenian singer said at a semifinal winners’ press conference afterwards that since she represented Armenia, her heart, thoughts and feelings were with her nations. “Even though 150 million people are watching, my thoughts are with my Motherland,” Mukuchyan declared.

At the press conference the Armenian singer explained that she “just wants peace on the borders.”

Azerbaijan’s representative at the competition, Samra, and members of the Azerbaijani delegation reportedly avoided commenting on Mukuchyan’s action, saying that “Eurovision is a song contest, and it’s all about music.”

The contest will proceed with a second semifinal on May 12 before the May 14 Grand Finale that is going to feature 26 nations.

On Wednesday The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) released a statement on use of Nagorno-Karabakh flag at Eurovision song contest condemning Mukuchyan’s action:

“The EBU and the Reference Group, the governing body of the Eurovision Song Contest, strongly condemn the brandishing of the Nagorno-Karabakh flag in the Green Room during the live transmission of the first Semi Final on 10 May and considers the flag’s appearance in the transmission harmful to the Eurovision Song Contest brand.

The Reference Group has decided to sanction Armenian broadcaster, AMPTV, in accordance with the Rules. The nature of the sanction will be determined, at the latest, by the next Reference Group meeting in June.

We are acutely aware of the tense situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the ongoing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We consider the appearance of a flag of a highly disputed territory in the live transmission a serious breach of Rule 1.2.2h of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest stating that “no messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows”.

Furthermore, the EBU has imposed a zero-tolerance policy towards the Armenian delegation with regards to breaching the Rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, in particular in relation to the aforementioned incident.

The Reference Group wishes to point out that any further breach of the Rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest could lead to disqualification from this year’s event or any successive editions.”

 

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