Europe's remaining conflicts, as revealed by the Eurovision voting last night

The past decades have seen some fairly severe conflicts in Europe. The wars in the Balkans, from the Croatian independence war to the Kosovo conflict. Wars in various ex-soviet states, from Moldova to Georgia. Old, brewing conflicts like the Northern Ireland troubles. And that's before we start considering that both Lebanon and Israel are EBU members...

In as diverse a competition as Eurovision, these conflicts sometimes threaten to spill over into the contest arena. Sometimes, it happens very openly, with countries withdrawing in a huff. You'd think in the block-voting bonanza that is Eurovision, it would also be made apparent by how countries allocate their points, with former enemies reluctant to vote for each other, but in a lot of places this hasn't been the case at all. Ireland and the UK vote for each other, as do Greece and Turkey. More famously, all the former Yugoslav countries happily exchange votes, as does previously fraught ex-soviet republics and Moscow. Eurovision, by commentators, is often seen as a real harbinger of peace, a first aesthetic step towards solving deeper issues.

That perspective is true, I guess, for the most part, although sometimes minorities and diasporas can mess with the perception of the result. But if you look closely at the voting results from a political perspective, compared to the kind of music the block structure suggests should be the right taste for a region, some of the conflicts seem still seem to be brewing - something I've not seen mentioned in any Eurovision coverage. Here are the three I've noticed:
  • The Cypriot-Turkish conflict seems totally to have spilled over to the contest. Turkey, which generally finishes top ten, last got any points at all from Cyprus when they won in 2003. This year, when the generally taste-analogous Greece gave Turkey 3 points and the entry finished fourth overall, Cyprus yet again didn't vote for Turkey at all.
  • The extended Kosovo conflict also rears its ugly head. This year four out of the six former Yugoslav republics gave Albania high scores, but Serbia gave them nothing - there's apparently a continued antipathy towards ethnic Albanians in the Serbian public sphere.
  • And finally, the Nagorno-Karabakh war seems to be still going on in the minds of the Armenians and Azeris. Last year both countries finished top ten, with neighbours giving them both high points, yet they gave each other nothing. This year again both finished top ten, and Armenia squeezed in a measly 1 for third-place finisher Azerbaijan which wasn't reciprocated.
It's interesting that this sort of nationalist chauvinism isn't talked about nearly as much as the kind where culturally close neighbours vote for each other. Perhaps division isn't nearly as upsetting as unity for formerly successful teams like Ireland and Sweden...

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