Contemporary Southeastern Europe
National Promotion and Eurovision: from Besieged Sarajevo to the Floodlights of Europe
The Eurovision Song Contest, as an important part of the entertainment industry, has offered European countries a platform for national promotion. The original format has developed over 60 years and has come under scrutiny and criticism as allegations of block voting, politics and nationalism have been raised. It has also been argued that similarity of cultures, linguistic connections, and close national identities, rather than national interests and politics, are what actually bring countries together in this competition. This study has two focuses in an attempt to determine what role the contest has had for participating countries and how they have used it. The first focus is on analysing historical incidents at the competition when countries have attempted to politicise the contest. The second focus and the main part of the study is a thorough investigation into the organisation of the first Bosnian-Herzegovinian delegation to participate in Eurovision, their escape from besieged Sarajevo and their participation at the contest in Ireland in 1993. After taking into account the history of the contest and the specific case study of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1993, the conclusion is that, although cultural similarities exist, the politics of national promotion do also play an important role in the competition and, in countries sending such entries, actually influences audiences at home towards stronger national pride and self-identification. Therefore, one might argue that the festival has been hijacked from the entertainment industry by political leaderships, especially those that have based their legitimacy on nationalism. Hence the success stories coming from the “New Europe”.