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The Fall And Rise Of Turkey At Eurovision Written by on December 20, 2012 | 34 Comments

In the last week, TRT have announced they are withdrawing Turkey  from the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. The nation that once struggled at Eurovision until televoting and diaspora kicked in have decided enough is enough, and are criticising some of the core rules of the Song Contest in the 21st century.

Can their arguments be justified, or is Turkey simply taking their ball away and not letting anyone else play? John Kennedy O’Connor looks at the rise and fall of Turkey at Eurovision.

So farewell then Turkey.“We’ve had enough”, yes that is your catchphrase. Unless there is a miraculous volte-face, the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest will not be staged in Istanbul, Ankara, or indeed anywhere on Turkish soil. The Turks have taken their key changes away and have withdrawn from Eurovision 2013, following in the steps of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal and Slovakia.

The latter three countries have never won the contest, nor indeed made any real impact on the scoreboard at all, so their absence probably lessens the blow to the contest line-up. Indeed, the Slovaks haven’t been seen in the Saturday night show since 1998, when they placed 21st. Over 48 years the Portuguese have always had a very dubious relationship with the Eurovision voters, never having placed in the top five at all, the only country from the pre-expansion of 1993 to suffer that ignominy. And if it wasn’t for Hari Mata Hari’s 3rd place in 2006 there wouldn’t be much for the fans to remember about Bosnia & Herzegovina either.

Magdalena Tul

Magdalena Tul, Poland 2011 (Photo: Pieter Van Den Berghe (EBU))

Many people have added Poland to the list of withdrawing countries as well, even though they are technically continuing their AWOL run from 2012. Their impressive debut in 1994 (scoring a splendid 2nd place) has never been matched and only one further top ten finish ever occurred for them, with seven of their last eight entries failing to qualify.

If we’re including Poland, then we can’t forget  previous entrants Monaco, Morocco, Andorra, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic, who are all staying away from Malmö in May. Luxembourg and Monaco are sorely missed in some quarters, both having triumphed in the Contest back in the days when it was largely a Western European event. Six wins between them is the same as the ex-Soviet Union and Yugoslav bloc can boast combined. Yet by the time those two departed the competition, neither was enjoying particularly good results. Monaco’s return was short lived when they failed to progress beyond the semi-final stage.

It may smack of bad sportsmanship, but you can understand really why these countries have given up the ghost.

But not so Turkey.

From Zero To Hero, Every Way That They Can

Like Portugal, the Turks had a very dodgy start to their Eurovision story, finishing last upon their debut in 1975. Certainly, with only Israel and Yugoslavia for company amongst countries outside the traditional Western and Nordic European geography, all three countries entries seemed at odds with the music being submitted by everyone else.

Turkey had another problem… their mutually antagonistic relationship with the Greeks next door. Greece got a one year start on the Turks in the contest and withdrew when Turkey entered the following year. The Turks did the same in 1976 when Greece opted for a Cypriot singer singing (or some might say wailing) an impassioned plea for her homeland, so recently occupied by the Turkish army. It wasn’t until 1978 that the two countries felt comfortable enough to share the Eurovision stage and despite the odd withdrawal on both sides for varying reasons, the two settled down to be familiar Eurovision nations over the coming decades; despite neither nation finding much appreciation for their efforts.

Then the voting system began to shift away from the reliance on national juries. Turkey found they were to be one of the biggest surprise beneficiaries of the embryonic tele-voting instigated in 1997. Prior to this year, the Turks had grazed the top 10 only once, when in 1986 they found themselves at a high of 9th out of the 20 songs. Otherwise, their track record was grim. 17 entries on the bottom half of the scoreboard, including three last places, two with no points at all.

All that changed in 1997 when to the astonishment of most, including the Turks themselves, they soared up the scoreboard to finish 3rd, with four countries awarding their song ‘Dinle’ douze points! Remarkable, particularly when considering that their previous eighteen entries had amassed just three 12 points between them! Turkey’s new found popularity was something of a blip, but there was clear evidence that a rosier, nay, more golden, Eurovision future lay ahead. Five countries tele-voted in 1997 and all had the Turks on their score sheet; the Germans putting them at the very top for the very first time.

Despite this excellent result (perhaps made even more remarkable as the Turkish entry was performed in the cursed second place in the running order), it didn’t immediately spark a particularly great new future for the continually failing Eurovision nation. The next couple of years didn’t bring top ten finishes, but they did bring a regular ‘douze points’ from the tele-voters of Germany. A nation with a very high population of Turkish expats, it was clear that a sense of national pride was prevailing and the German votes were being heavily influenced by this loyalty.

Things began to get better again for the Turks from 2000 when they started experimenting with English songs. Now it wasn’t just the expats in Germany, but those in the Netherlands and France who were willing to show their support year in, year out. Despite a couple of slip backs, it seemed that with heavy diaspora support through tele-voting, Turkey were finally getting the knack of the Contest and this proved the case when at last they took gold in the 2003 contest in Riga, with the belly-dancing Sertab Erener squeaking home in 1st place, bringing the contest to Istanbul and putting a Eurovision Song Contest trophy on the TRT Executive’s shelf.

From that moment on, there really was no looking back. Although another victory has so far eluded the Turks, generally speaking, they’ve had one of the most consistent records of any country since the turn of the century. Indeed, since winning in 2003, only three of their entries have failed to place in the top seven in the final. Pretty remarkable for a country that had such an arid period of failure for so very long. But all of a sudden, TRT appear to have fallen out of love with the contest they had become to be so apparently good at. Why?

Failing To Live It Up

According to the press release issued by the station, the Turkish TV executives are unhappy with both the current voting structure (50% jury/50% tele-voting) and that the Big Five nations (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) are given automatic places in the Saturday night Grand Final. Both are reasonable arguments that have been raised by many fans. But are they reasonable for the Turks?

Yuksek Sadakat (Turkey 2011)

Yuksek Sadakat, Turkey 2011 (Pieter Van Den Berghe (EBU))

Prior to 1993, any country that wanted to enter could do so, simply by complying with the EBU rulebook. From 1993 until 1999, every participating country was vulnerable to qualification procedures, based largely on their previous results. Since 2000, this has not applied to any of the Big Five. So what? What impact has this had on Turkey? In this period, the Turks have only once failed to qualify for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. That was in 2011 in Düsseldorf, when they placed 13th in their semi-final.

But was this failure now due to the imposition of the 50/50 voting split that had served them so well in 2010? Clearly, not. In Moscow and again in Oslo, the Turks had done very nicely; that letter attaining their second best finish ever, in fact. Even if there hadn’t been a 50/50 split in the 2011 semi-final, neither the jury nor the tele-voters put the Turks in their top ten, so regardless of which method was used, they wouldn’t have qualified. Both sets of judges simply didn’t rate the song and lest we forget, it is a Song Contest after all.

Love Me Back?

Since the Big Five nations don’t participate in the semi-finals, but they do vote, they can hardly be blamed for the failure of Turkey’s 2011 entry either. Do the Turks perhaps think that had they not had to qualify at all, their result in the 2011 Final would have been better? Hard to imagine based on the 13th place out of the 19 entries in their semi that an automatic qualification would have produced something particularly special from Yuksek Sadakat (who were an internal selection). But being in the final directly, even if you ultimately finished last, is a big difference than being knocked out in the semi.

Does the Big Five rule create an unfair advantage for those who enjoy that status, particularly to the detriment to those that don’t? Apparently not. Since their win in 2003, only when Germany won the contest convincingly in 2010, have Turkey ever been bettered in the final by one of the Big Five, with Italy scoring 2nd the following year when the Turks were relegated.

Can Bonomo, Turkey 2012

Man-boat, Man-boat, you have made a Man-Boat! (Andres Putting (EBU))

Maybe that’s the point. Since being given automatic passage, the record of the Big Five isn’t particularly impressive. The point could be argued therefore that since they aren’t generally coming up with songs that are deemed of particularly high quality by those judging them (the viewers or the jury) that putting them straight through to the final is unfair on countries that are only narrowly missing out on a place in the final. That’s a strong argument indeed. If you take certain examples (‘Even If‘ in 2008 and ‘Love Will Set You Free‘ in 2012, both for the United Kingdom), it’s impossible to imagine some of the Big Five entries coming through a semi-final in a million years, based on their low scores achieved in the Grand Final.

But without the Big Five’s viewing figures on the Saturday night attracting sponsors, without their entry fee offsetting that cost for the smaller countries taking part, and without their presence legitimising the Contest, there would be no Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed there would be no EBU. Twenty songs are still given the chance to compete in the Eurovision final every year, the same number generally speaking that has competed each Saturday night since the late 1970’s. It’s a tricky argument with fair play on one side and economic reality on the other.

Shake It Up?

Qualification began in 1993. Twenty Contests have now been held under a number of qualification systems. Thirteen of them have been staged with the ‘big’ nations removed from the procedure. Turkey failed to qualify twice: Once with the Big Five (then the Big Four) also having to navigate qualification, in 1994 under a questionable system that wasn’t revealed until after their 1993 result was deemed insufficient; and once more in 2011 as discussed. It isn’t at all clear that the Big Five rule has impacted Turkey in any way shape or form. If they’re implying that the Big Five songs simply aren’t good enough and should be tested in qualification, then that’s a reasonable argument indeed and one that I am sure many other nations ponder. Certainly the fans and viewers do. If this is the reason Turkey have left, it’s not an argument that’s easily refuted.

There can be no Ley with no Rimi Rimi, but can there be Eurovision without Turkey? It would seem so. Can there be a Eurovision without the Big Five? I would suggest not. Yes, it survived 1982 when neither France nor Italy turned up, but perhaps the saving grace came from the global mega-hit that won that year. Did anyone really notice that Germany weren’t there in 1996 or that Italy was missing in action over an extended period? I did, but who can say if the wider audience cared?

Kenan Doğulu Shaking It Up, Turkey 2007

Kenan Doğulu Shaking It Up, Turkey 2007

Turkey has benefitted from the introduction of tele-voting more than most. You only have to compare their record prior to 1997 and since to pick up on that. Arguably, you could also point to the expansion of the Contest as having been favourable to the Turkish entries. The arrival of their ex-Soviet neighbours did certainly help their fortunes. Could it be that switching to English made all the difference? Or that their entries just got better? Who knows? Whatever the reason, Turkey has been one of the most consistently high scoring nations over the past decade. It’s a shame they are now leaving, just as it’s a shame when any country leaves the contest.

Turkey’s Withdrawal Is A Loss To The Contest

I’m all in favour of a smaller Eurovision final. Writing as a fan, I really dislike that the final has become so huge. When it first increased to 22, then 23, then 25 nations, I was thrilled; but not anymore. It should shrink. Alas, I can’t put forward any meaningful way of doing this; at least not one that would likely gain universal acceptance and besides, nobody has asked me. Nations withdrawing is not the answer; particularly as this diminishes the semi-finals, not the final itself.

Personally, I won’t miss Turkey at Eurovision. I know I’m generally out-of-step with the masses of fans who seem to adore the Turkish entries, but their entries have always left me cold; or indeed, sometimes quite hot under the collar. I’ve sat with gaping jaw and bulging eyes on many occasions as Turkish entries I’ve truly despised have rocketed up the final scoreboard, punching way above their weight, largely in my mind anyway, thanks to their reliance on their tele-voting diaspora. There, I’ve written it. 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2010 particularly spring to mind as results that left me silenced. However, I fully accept that music (perhaps more so ‘Eurovision’ music) is totally subjective and one man’s Après Toi is another man’s Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Ley. I always bow to the result.

TRT have taken the decision to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest, but the reasons given simply don’t add up. They won’t be in Malmo and that diminishes the Contest as a whole; as indeed does the absence of Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Portugal and every other nation not taking part. I hope they come back soon, but for now it’s farewell and the end of this Eurovision chapter for Turkey.


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Have Your Say

34 responses to “The Fall And Rise Of Turkey At Eurovision”

  1. Stephen says:

    There’s definitely something fishy going on at TRT. My Turkish colleague says the public at large do not support the decision to withdraw.

  2. Seán says:

    It is certainly an odd decision by TRT, whatever the real reasoning behind it. Certainly it is difficult to argue that recent contests have been made the contest any less fair than contests during the mid 2000’s. We have consistently seen, since the introduction of jury voting, countries can be less and less secure about having a high probability of either being in the final or obtaining a high placing in it.

    I’d also be closely watch what Azerbaijan say about the contest given the impact of the Turkish withdrawal.

  3. Elvir says:

    Well, your comment om Bosnia is somehow very harsh and subjective. Bosnia did have a great impact om ESC. Except Hari Mata Hari they had many top 10 spots: Dino Merlin twice, Deen, Regina and Laka. And don’t forget that Bosnia, together with Ukraine, is the only country which made it to the final every year since the semifinals were introduced. So Bosnia will be missed indeed!

  4. Tzachee Groupper says:

    let me suggest a reason for the turkish wuthdrawal. it’ more political. they say that esc has become unfair and bla bla bla, no one believes that, when it comes from turkish mouths, due to the very recent history of the contest. there is a big difference between the turkey of 10 years ago, then the turkey we all know today. turkey is moving further and further towards more and more islamist policy, and for a country that is rulled and directed by islamists, esc is perceived as western, shameful, decadent and pointless, hence they chose to leave.

  5. BJ Murphy says:

    Now who will Azeribaijan give their 12 to?

  6. Ewan Spence says:

    My bet is Azeri’s douze will go to Ukraine, with Russia and Georgia in contention. All depends on the other songs of course.

  7. RW says:

    “Prior to 1993, any country that wanted to enter could do so, simply by complying with the EBU rulebook. ”

    Well, there was also that period at the end of the 80’s/beginning of the 90’s when the EBU tried to cap the final at 22 entries, and told Malta to go bugger off when they tried to return to the Contest (only making it back in 1991, when the Netherlands withdrew and opened up a spot).

  8. Zack says:

    I always dislike TRT’s committee and their act to politicize the contest. I never liked your their selection process as well.

    However I find their point valid indeed.
    Not to particular country but all other countries have to go thru semifinal to be qualified to go to final unlike few countries . Those few countries go to Final without competition. When you hate someone it doesn’t mean whatever he/she says should be perceived as false or groundless. Put aside your moronic hatred and racism and look into picture from broader angle. Eurovision suppose to create a bridge between different different communities.

    @Tzachee Groupper Turkish people against islamist policies. The secular system of Turks has been hijacked by Europe, Russia and Middle east. Europeans have been supporting pro-islamic movements in Turkey and aiding terrorists to target secular Turkish intellectuals. PM Erdogan himself has no genetic connection with Turks. He is pure hemshinite (Muslim armenian) and most of the ministers are kurds. Better get your facts right before making your statements

  9. Linda says:

    Great read…

    I believe the reason Turkey isn’t in this year might have something to do with Syria.

    Either they want to show compassion to suffering muslims in Syria or a war against Syria might take place soon and they don’t want to look too western to the groups in Syria that will aid them in the war to topple the government.

    So it’s either Syria…

    Or it’s something else, maybe they were expecting Tourism from Eurovision and now that Tourism is at 35+ million a year in Turkey, they feel Eurovision isn’t needed any more?

    I think tht maks sens too, Eurovision is a from of marketing for many countries to attract tourists and investments.

    Final guess would be…

    Something is going on that we will never know about 🙂

  10. Linda says:

    Just read some article about the reason why Turkey (TRT) jumped off the Eurovision.

    It seems on Friday when Eurovision was being rehearsed in Sweden 2 gay men kissed eachother during the rehearsal and TRT decided to opt out this year do to the incident, wich makes sense considering the conservative leadership in Turkey.

    Also found this:
    “Eurovision 2013 to feature first lesbian kiss in protest against lack of gay marriage legislation”

    So it seems like there are 2 similar reasons for Turkey to now want to take part in this years eurovision.

    Am I right? 🙂

  11. Altan says:

    This article doesn’t do justice to the Turkish logic for withdrawing. Through either a lack of journalistic skills or mere laziness, all it does is assume the reason behind that move is bad sportsmanship. However, according to a multitude of Turkish language newspapers, the decision to quit was purely because Turkey wanted to join the big five by offering to pay for the contest that we all enjoy. The big five refused.
    Why did Turkey offer to pay? Well aside from the benefit being part of a Big Six would offer, the Turkish economy is one of the few in Europe, unlike Ireland, Portugal or Greece, to have zero national debt. The country is now a lender to the IMF, and therefore can afford it. So in these tough times for Western Europe, why refuse Turkish money for Eurovision, especially if it really is a “song contest”?

  12. Eric Graf says:

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think your “multitude of Turkish newspapers” have much credibility with that story.

  13. Altan says:

    Why is that then?

  14. Eric Graf says:

    It’s just not a plausible story.

    The Contest is put on by the EBU. The Big 5 are merely participants, and wouldn’t have any say in the matter.

    Who in Turkey offered to pay? The government? TRT? Someone else?

    Why *would* the EBU turn them down?

    Turkey does not have “zero national debt” anyway. They’re clearly doing much better than most of the countries in the contest, but they still ran a budget deficit of 897 million lire in the first quarter of 2013. (Source: )

    And even if the rest of the story is totally true, you still have to explain why Turkey would just totally quit the contest just because their offer wasn’t accepted. “Take our money or we’re leaving”? That’s a strange way to behave.

    The story makes no sense at all. You need to be more cynical about your media.

  15. Altan says:

    I’m not convinced that the story is not plausible. The EBU is an alliance of public broadcasters, so is not detached from national governments that own state television and therefore not detached from their political aims. In some EU countries, the very mention of the presence of Turkey, even in a minor and insignificant way, in the contest is too intolerable for many. This is a country that has been foolishly knocking on Europe’s door for 50 years, whie Europeans slam it in her face. answer your question, I would believe that Turkey would be singled out again by Europeans.

    I was hoping you might argue that newspapers are mostly privately owned by figures like R. Murdoch and therefore cannot be objective since the owner would have a say. This would have been a good point about the state of media. Yet what I sensed instead from you is a disdain for Turkish media in particular. Pity.

    Now I realise that newspapers in general nowadays, not specifically Turkish ones have a bad reputation for phone hacking and the paparazzi, but they are still for most people the main way they get their news. Naturally, many newspapers have political identities/leanings, but whether in print or digitally, newspapers by and large produce accurate and factual news. Journalists by and large have a vested interest in their own reputation to work within a universal journalistic framework. So I have no reason to doubt newspapers like Zaman and Hurriyet, which I read regularly.

    By the way, where do you get your news from?

    Secondly, every country borrows including Turkey but the difference is that Turkey has a budget surplus, whereas most EU countries do not. I’m not trying to say however that the grass is greener in Turkey, as Turks lack many social benefits Europeans have. The Turkish system is based on the American model and so is very different. I guess this is the price they pay for high growth.

  16. Eric Graf says:

    First of all, I’m an American, and I know about Rupert Murdoch’s crummy biased media, being from the home of Fox News.

    But I have no idea what Turkish media is like. You’re the one that said a “multitude” of Turkish media was making the report, and I took your word for it.

    I was just evaluating your Eurovision story on its merits, as I do all news stories regardless of their source. And, sorry, I still don’t think it’s plausible.

    Perhaps that’s what the TRT spokespeople are actually saying. But whoever is saying it, I say “baloney”.

    Turkey has not been discriminated against (and neither has UK or Ireland or anyone else).

    I can think of many reasons Turkey might want to quit the contest – unhappiness with the racy content, concern about the ratings, genuinely feeling right or wrong that the rules are biased against them – but “we quit because we had money and they wouldn’t take it”? That makes ABSOLUTELY no sense at all.

    Even if you WERE being discriminated against, I’m sure they would still be glad to take your money.

  17. Altan says:

    As I said earlier, I would believe the story and have no concrete reason to really doubt it. The crux of your argument is that Turkish over-reaction doesn’t make any sense to YOU (And your own idea of how people should behave ) and therefore is implausible. However, culturally Turks do tend to be very sensitive. And there is some justification for sensitivity in that country’s dealings with other Europeans.

    From a Turkish perspective, the issue in question is not that the money itself wasn’t gracefully accepted in the good will and spirit in which it was offered. The wider issue is about the lack of a level playing field. Why are some countries’ dollars (or euros) more acceptable than others?

    As I pointed out before, as somebody who lives and breathes Europe, for some Europeans (by no means all) having a 99% Muslim country become one of a ‘Big Six’ would be too much to accept. There is an ongoing debate in Europe over the very identity of the continent, who is part of it and who is excluded, where does the boundaries end etc….

    Opinions vary of course, but there is a large group that see Europe as having a Judeo-Christian identity, and cannot come to terms with including in any way shape or form the 20% of the continent that is culturally Muslim. And yes as obnoxious as it may sound, there are those who would like to see the back of Turkey.

  18. Lisa says:

    Seeing a country leave the ESC is always sad, especially one that adds to the musical diversity of the ESC, like Turkey. In that light, I regret them leaving. But I have to admit, being Dutch, that a part of me is glad they are gone as well. It has annoyed the hell out of me seeing our twelve points automatically go to Turkey year after year, regardless of the quality of their entry. (Sertab deserved those points, and maybe Manga too, but that’s it). Now at least our voting results can reflect our appreciation of the songs again, instead of our demographics.

  19. Altan says:

    I agree with you that the voting system sucks, presumably this is why they brought back jury voting. However, Turkey’s exit will not really rectify this in the wider contest. Countries will continue to vote along political, ethnic and linguistic lines, and British artists will probably still be ‘punished’ for the Iraq war. And of course, the most classic example is how Greece and Cyprus will always unashamedly vote for each other year on year without fail….

    Equally tragic for artists is the way sings are short listed in the semi finals. I thought it was wrong that the Dutch entry You and Me by Joan Franka was relegated last year. It was a beautiful song sung by a Dutch artist of Turkish origin.

  20. Lisa says:

    I know, you absolutely right, this doesn’t solve “the problem”. I don’t even conceive neighbouring voting as that big of a problem, I mean, every nation is guilty of voting for their neighbours, us included. And I do believe this had to do with similar taste in certain regions. Nothing wrong with that. The song that appeals to all regions wins, like Denmark this year. But I do remember for example the Dutch votes in 2010: only 4 points for winner Lena, only 6 points for other top 5 contender and neighbour Tom Dice, both with very strong songs, and then 8 points for Turkey and 12 points for Armenia that both had insignificant songs in that year in my opinion. I couldn’t believe it when I heard our announcer say it. No way was that a reflection of Dutch taste. I remember everybody in the bar being pissed off about it. But I guess all this is not Turkey’s fault, and we should hope they return. I do hope the ESC didn’t refuse their offer to contribute more in some attempt to keep the ESC a western dominated thing. That would be very unfair. I can relate more to the idea of Turkey becoming more religious and feeling the show is not appropiate.

  21. Lisa says:

    Joan Franka, btw, I think blew her own changes by insisting on wearing that ridiculous indian headdress and then singing off key in the semi-final. I liked the song too, and had she performed it well and with a normal appearance, I think it would have gone through. We don’t blame that one on block voting or diaspora voting at all. She was just too unexperienced. Too bad for her, she is a really nice girl and normally a good singer.

  22. ReneWiersma says:

    “and British artists will probably still be ‘punished’ for the Iraq war”

    Except in 2009, when bizarrely everyone seemed to have forgotten about the Iraq war for a moment, and Jade Ewen came in 5th for the UK.

    Please, if you want to do well, stop making excuses and start sending better songs.

  23. Seda says:

    When I was reading your article I felt speechless..

    I should say same as you were listening Turkish songs in the contest”cold; or indeed, sometimes quite hot under the collar. I’ve sat with gaping jaw and bulging eyes”…

    This is the exact reason Turks should not be in this contest anymore ..
    Your article is general feelings of Nations of Europe …Racist , Jealous , with a sore loser pain of past This is the true face of Europe toward Turks ..

    Generally Cold European Culture is so different than Turkish Culture , With our songs actually we brought our warmness, friendly sweet spirit and soul..We brought our Dignity , Our Courage, Our Strenghts ..We stood there as we stood strong for Centuries in European Lands..

    So There You go …You wont have us anymore , be happy in your cold world…From Turkey you wont find much people listen most of those songs anyway , most of those songs have no soul no spirit ..Really dont give us any warm feelings..We used to watch it because our Country was participant. Now no more excuse to watch that racist, political “song” contest .
    No more phone calls , no more spending our money to phone companies 🙂

    Good decision .I am proud of my Country;s decision . Until this contest is a fair song contest , no big fives , no politics , no racism …Then maybe we can consider again …

    Enjoy !

  24. Eric Graf says:

    Oy vey.

  25. Seda, you sound like a crazy woman. Seriously. I’ve been to Turkey and I love the country, but the decision makes no sense. Also, getting 12 points automatically every year from a country that has a large Turkish diaspora – that’s not fair. Sertab’s winning song was great, but the others? Not so much. How can you call it racism, when Turkey have done so well in the past decade? Please, come up with a new argument.

    Neighbour voting isn’t fair, either – that’s the only thing that can explain the now departed Bosnia’s bizarre amount of top 10 finishes. I don’t remember a single one of their songs.

    As a Brit, I don’t really care how we do in Eurovision. Some of our songs have been awful. Even Jade Ewen’s was pretty bad, and don’t get me started on Bonnie Tyler or that guy singing about teenagers. But the UK at least votes fairly and doesn’t rely on neighbours to give it points.

    The whole contest is pretty much a farce now. Denmark’s win was well-deserved this year, as were Norway and Azerbaijan’s strong showings. I have no idea how Ukraine did so well with such a bland song but then look at who voted for them…sigh.

  26. Altan says:

    My dear fellow Tom,
    I was watching Eurovision when you were still spermatozoa. And I can tell you that for a very long time, until very recently Turkey always did badly. We as Turks could rely on this and even place a handsome sum of money as a bet. I must admit sometimes even I was astounded at how badly they did in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

    It was not until televoting was introduced and new Eastern countries joined that Turkey’s position improved.

    However, the important question here is: why did Turkey do considerably less well under a 100% jury voting system but the opposite under televoting? How can you account for these differences?

    Some may say the public televoting sucks because Turkish guest workers are all regimentally calling to vote for Turkey. I would consider this a somewhat sloppy sweeping generalisation – would the same charge be levelled at other nationalities?

    Others may say that in hindsight jury voting must have been determined by people not sympathetic and possibly with a poor view of Turkey. After reading the article above where the author (an Irishman whose country is as far away from Turkey as you can get) admits that he would not miss Turkey, I can well believe this argument.

  27. Marina says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I cannot understand why Turkey and Israel has been taking part in the Eurovision.
    They do not belong to Europe.
    Why doesn’t Lebanon and the rest of the countries who have borders with the above countries participate?
    Can some one reply to me…..

  28. Ewan Spence says:

    Marina, (1) entry is based on the EBU transmission area – as long as part of a country is in that, it can be a full EBU member and enter ESC (2) Lebanon actually can enter, but they have some issues if they do (such as the presence of Israel).

  29. Eric Graf says:

    “Eurovision” is not Europe, it’s an international broadcasting network, also known as the EBU. And Israel and Turkey are both members of the network.

    As to your second question … Unfortunately, it boils down to this: Lebanon etc. don’t participate because Israel got there first. Participating countries must broadcast ALL the competing performances, and to do so would be to recognize Israel as a country … and that’s illegal in most other Middle-Eastern nations.

  30. Sevgi says:

    wow… this article is totally… well, I dont care anyways.

    It was annouced as Turkeys withdrawals related to unfair voting system back then. Sounds as a good enough reason to back away. Any logic can catch this, I guess. Personally I didnt seek any other hidden motive. It sounds just convincing to me.

    Turks cant complain about unfairness, since they made some high ranks in the past? One cant stand against unfairness if they are not the victim? Im shocked at how crude minds you have there!

    Previous voting system had its own problems as well. Yeah, we can talk about Azerbaijan, but first we have to dig up some explicit tendencies of other countries through esc history.

    And about this being anti-gay or conservative, or any other bullshit talk when it comes to Turkey… I think government want to keep citizens support by acting almighty, because of this they sometimes make a scene in deed. But to lay a hand on rights of secular state is out of question. State of law acts eventually. Just like Twitter case. But for esc… hahaha… I guess nothing wavers for poor contest inside Turks hearts anymore. Maybe they are satisfied with explanation made by TRT. Or maybe they think esc is a financial burden. Maybe esc lost its popularity.

    I mean, deductions from Turkeys withdrawal from esc (other than countrys given reason) seems kind of pathetic. Or I should say esc is behind the last on the list.

  31. A Turk says:

    Eurovision is blasphemy and disrespect to Islam…

    Just kidding, or perhaps checking how biased you might be towards a nation you still can not quite understand or never even bothered to at least try to understand.

    Whatever the real reason behind Turkey’s withdrawal is, facts such as the political influences in favor of or against most of the participating countries, overall education level of voters as well as their questionable qualification as music critics, or simply the validity of a one night performance determining how good a song might be (although now the music is not live and only the singing is live) all have great effect on how legitimate and sincere this “song” contest is.

    Believe it or not, as a young boy I would wait a whole damn year for this contest. And the results, no matter how bitter they were, did not have any effect on how I would wait again the next year. Each time with endless hope to see my country score better or even win! This is just a sample of the spirit and mentality of a common Turkish citizen. But Eurovision simply lost taste in time. Not because we grew more religious or we are bad sportsmen or what not. Simply because it lost its taste as it persistantly proved each and every year to be nothing but a political arena of races either trying to defeat each one and another or suck up to their neighbours and political allies. Despite what TRT had in mind when they made the decision, Eurovision is as such. Basically, whatever their agenda is, you can not blame anyone for not wanting to participate anymore in something that has already proven to be not worth all the sincere efforts, time and money invested in it.

    One can speculate, criticize or even badmouth (like the definitely biased author of the article above) but they can not put all the blame of diaspora on a single country and its nation while it is clear as daylight that almost the whole competition works the same way. Similarly, trashing all the songs of a country which do not agree with their taste while excluding many other trash songs from different countries (being further proof of how purely biased the author is) can only serve to discredit the objectivity of the author. If the author aimed these, then hats of to him as this article serves its purpose very well indeed.

    Final word, even this post is a live example of why a Turk would be upset with anything and would oppose it with all their being. We can be your best friend, we are that good and sincere, and we can be our best enemy becase once again we are that good and sincere.


  32. Turkish defright says:

    There is only one loser in Turkey not being in this competition and that is the competition itself, probably 80 million viewers now do not bother to watch it and that is a big viewer loss. Personaly i prefered the days when everyone sang in their own language Turkey had some brilliant songs that got a silly ammount of points simply because of racism or taste in the old days, although not every song was a hit there were some very brilliant classics that made for me a mockery of the song contest. Singing in English killed the spirit of this competition and shows the disregard for world music that arrogantly parades as the Eurovision song contest.

  33. Glomfield says:

    I don’t know how you can be so wrong about the split results of the 2011 contest. Yes, Turkey didn’t pass through with flying colours, but they did get a 10th place and would have been in the final, if it was for pure televoting.

  34. ARMYSLOT88 says:

    I love love love this post!
    I’ve learned that when someone brings me their drama (their “feedback”) it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. I’m their mirror.

    I really enjoyed this post.

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