“The EBU will ensure that Russia can participate in the Eurovision Song Contest”. This says Eurovision Reference Group chairman Frank-Dieter Freiling in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel. “We have made it very clear to Ukraine that we expect all participants to be able to compete.”
“We still have no official notification from the Ukrainian government on this matter,” Freiling continues. “The President or Prime Minister could override the decision of the Security Service. Of course, EBU has to respect Ukrainian laws. But should the decision not to allow the Russian participant stay, EBU will seek the other ways to ensure that Russia can participate in the show”.
What these other ways are, and whether or not it includes hosting the contest in another country, is not certain yet.
Freiling highlights that after top Ukrainian authorities confirm their decision, EBU will run discussions with Russia in order to find appropriate actions on the matter. “However, we were also very well aware that even before the Ukrainian decision, Russian delegation failed to attend the mandatory Heads of Delegations meeting and still has not reserved any accommodation, as opposed to all other delegations. Russia must also make it clear that their participation, if we make it possible for them, will be perceived”.
Preparations for Kiev and Australia at Eurovision
Dr. Freiling also spoke about preparations of the upcoming event in Kiev. “The preparations are, of course, in full swing, but they are not always easy. This is not least due to the fact that the former state broadcaster NTU converted into a public service station on the 1st of January. This led to significant structural shifts, but also to personnel changes at the top. The Ukrainian government is also heavily involved in the planning”, explains Freiling.
Freiling also spoke about the continuing Australian involvement. He says that participation of this country has been enriching Eurovision in an artistic sense. “The high quality of the Australian singers was an incentive to all other nations to continue their artistic development. It is also clear how much Australia stands for the ESC’s value code. What we have already said last year as a justification still applies. For decades, Australia has been broadcasting Eurovision shows live in the morning. And, although it is located at the other end of the world, Australia sees itself as a part of European history and culture through the diverse ethnic groups of the Australians”.