Armenia Dodges Eurovision Controversy
Armenian participants in the upcoming Eurovision song contest are denying that their entry is about genocide denial. To ease concerns that the song violates competition rules by making a political statement, they have changed the title.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the mass slaughter of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks amid the tumult of the First World War. Armenia insists the killings amounted to genocide; Turkey does not accept that the tragedy constituted genocide.
The Armenian entry for the Eurovision contest was originally titled “Don’t Deny.” That title drew protests from Turkey, along with its close ally Azerbaijan. Austria is this year’s host for the Eurovision finals, which will take place in late May.
Eurovision’s rules require that contestants keep politics out of their acts. So to quash the controversy before it could gain traction, Armenia changed the title of its entry from “Don’t Deny” into “Face the Shadow.” The refrain “don’t deny” is still there.
The song’s producers insist that it is about peace, unity and tolerance, and about connecting to roots. Even so, the song is seen by many as a thinly veiled call for international recognition of 1915 mass slaughter as genocide. In the song’s recently released video, the members of the sextet called Genealogy pose for a photo in World War I period outfits and then vanish one by one.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
Sign up for Eurasianet's free weekly newsletter.