Eurovision Song Contest officials say the entry from Armenia could be banned from the contest for brandishing the flag of the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Iveta Mukuchyan waved the flag during a qualifying round on Tuesday.
WoW WoW!— Aishwarya Rai Lover (@Aish_Queen4ever) May 10, 2016
IvetaMukuchyan</a> the sister of <a href="https://twitter.com/MakeupMariannaM">MakeupMariannaM just nailed it in #Eurovision proud of U Go girl Go #Armenia pic.twitter.com/M25ncQ4xTq
The separatist region is officially part of Azerbaijan but currently is under the control of the local ethnic Armenian forces.
“All I want to call out, to spread, is that: please, I just want peace on borders. Armenia wants just peace. And this is why I wrote this song. I just want to spread love waves. I wrote the song exactly because this is what is going on inside of me,” Iveta told reporters.
What do the organisers say?
In the run-up to this year’s event, organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) warned both performers and fans not to use flags as political tools.
EBU statement on use of Nagorno-Karabakh flag
Eurovision</a> now published here: <a href="https://t.co/GpOtCwLn6B">https://t.co/GpOtCwLn6B</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/eurovision?src=hash">#eurovision</a> <a href="https://t.co/NdOdawe8kW">pic.twitter.com/NdOdawe8kW</a></p>— EBU (EBU_HQ) May 11, 2016
The Geneva-based organisation says the incident was a “serious breach” of its ban on political messages.
It said Armenia’s public broadcaster would face sanctions and that “any further breach of the rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest could lead to disqualification from this year’s event or any successive editions.”
“I made very clear that it is unacceptable to have this flag in the Green Room during the grand final. And if that would actually happen, there would be more severe consequences, which could actually lead to disqualification in this year’s song contest or an exclusion from the Eurovision song contest for the next 3 years,” said spokesperson Sietse Bakker.
Which flags are allowed?
- National flags of participating nations
- The flags of full UN member states
Providing they are not displayed in a political manner:
- The EU flag is allowed
- The gay pride “rainbow” flag is allowed
What about the Welsh flag?
Flying the Welsh flag 😜
bbceurovision</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeandJakemusic">JoeandJakemusic
scott_mills</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/joewoolford">joewoolford
JakeShakeshaft</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Eurovision?src=hash">#Eurovision</a> <a href="https://t.co/BHc0qvIy5h">pic.twitter.com/BHc0qvIy5h</a></p>— The Eurovision Times (eurovisiontime) May 10, 2016
After discussion earlier this month, the EBU decided to relax its policy to allow the Welsh flag to appear.
This was music to the ears of Joe Woolford from Denbighshire in Wales, who is part of the UK entry.