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Fears for Balkans Eurovision war

Musical flashpoint in Serbia-Montenegro

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Relations between Serbia and Montenegro are at present rather strained after the withdrawal of their joint entry for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, the BBC reports.

Earlier this month, Montenegrin band No Name won the Belgrade shoot-out to decide who would represent the fun-loving pair of Balkan states in Athens in May. A panel of judges from Montenegro broadcaster RTVCG awarded nul points to all the Serbian acts, provoking irate Serbians in the audience to bottle the winners off stage.

The Serbians duly accused the Montenegrins of tactical voting and "called for the vote to be restaged" with the public having the final say on which of the five acts would go foward in glory. Montenegro declined, and that was the end of Serbia-Montenegro's 2006 Eurovision campaign.

The head of Serbian broadcaster RTS Aleksandar Tijanic poured fuel on the fire with: "It would be better for all of us not to have a representative at the contest in Athens. Otherwise, we would have to accept manipulations, pressures and blackmails imposed by the music clans and political mentors who brought us to this embarrassing situation."

This outburst was probably unwise, given that Tijanic is "also the head of the UJRT, an umbrella organisation designed to mediate between broadcasters from Serbia and Montenegro".

The UJRT, though, agreed with the claim that "the judges from Montenegro had violated the statute and the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest".

Serbia-Montenegro now faces a possible three-year ban from Eurovision and a £15,000 fine. Rather less seriously, the rumpus may decide the outcome of a referendum in Montenegro due to be held the day after Eurovision, in which the locals will vote on whether to declare independence from their bigger brother.

On the current evidence, Eurovision 2007 holds the prospect of two new participants who will, as is the local Greek/Turkish custom, resolutely award each other no points whatsover while non-partisans in the audience jeer with derision. How the hell they will fit "The former Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro, until recently trading as the musically-talented half of Serbia and Montenegro" on the electric scoreboard is anyone's guess. ®

Bootnote

Oh yes, and if you were thinking of watching Eurovision this year, don't bother 'cos the Lithuanians have already declared themselves the winners.

According to our informant Andrew Quested, "We Are The Winners is essentially a chant 'sung' to the same tune that children chant things like 'ner-nerny-ner-ner'. They have managed to turn it into a rock song - sort of - but it remains to be seen whether it will be judged as humorous or stupid and arrogant."

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