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Azerbaijan: Eurovision Win Presents New Chances, New Challenges

President Ilham Aliyev will welcome Eurovision guests with the refrain: “Smiles everyone, Smiles.” (Photo: President of Azerbaijan)

To many in Azerbaijan, winning Europe's ultimate pop-music contest produced a surge of national pride. But as the cheering over the Eurovision victory subsides, a tricky debate is just starting to unfold: what image of itself should Azerbaijan project to the outside world next year?

Thanks to the winning duet sung by the Azerbaijani tandem of Nigar "Nikki" Jamal and Eldar "Ell" Gasimov, Baku gets to host the contest in 2012. Few question that the energy-rich country has the monetary muscle or the organizational ability to pull out all the stops for next year’s Eurovision competition, scheduled to take place in Baku from May 22-26.

“Eurovision in Düsseldorf cost 46 million euros [about $65.6 million], while some bridges or roads built in Azerbaijan cost more,” boasted DJ Fateh, a popular DJ at Baku’s MediaFM radio station.

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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance journalist based in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation-Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan: Eurovision Win Presents New Chances, New Challenges

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