Mark Wadsworth

This is a spare 'blog in case my main 'blog at isn't working

The end of a fine Eurovision tradition

I don’t mean that Terry Wogan doesn’t do the sarky comments any more, this is more fundamental. When I was a lad, only proper European countries entered the Eurovision song contest, but then they went a bit mad and allowed Israel to enter.

Cue much heated debate at school about whether Israel was actually a European country or not, primarily done to wind up Collins (who was Jewish). Then the same all over again when Turkey was allowed to enter, much muttering and spluttering about whether it’s a European country or not (quite clearly it isn’t – it’s not on the continent of Europe, and unlike Israel, doesn’t even have any European inhabitants).

And so on and so forth. Every time they allowed yet another even-less-European country enter, there was much righteous indignation (especially if they won).

In the smart arse corner, then there is usually somebody who points that Eurovision is merely the name of an international television distribution network, which happens to have named the song contest after itself, and this does not imply that it is restricted to European competitors only (in the same way as the British Grand Prix is not restricted to British Formula One drivers).

But it seems that nobody can be bothered to do the curmudgeonly thing and point out that Azerbaijan is not, repeat not, a European country. It has borders with Chechnia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran, FFS. So I’ll have to do it myself.
Geek points for the first person to point out that Eurovision is the name of a television distribution network and is not meant to imply that the competition is restricted to entrants from European countries etc.
UPDATE. Here’s my personal opinion of what’s Europe and what’s not. There are a few countries which I’d consider to be ‘Not really Europe’, the fact that they aren’t Arab or Asian either is not my problem. Romania just scrapes in because it uses the Latin alphabet and is predominantly Christian. Plus, it gives us access to those strategic Black Sea ports:


7 responses to “The end of a fine Eurovision tradition

  1. Bayard May 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I think you’ll find that the continent of Europe ends at the Ural Mountains and that line continues down to the Black Sea and then down the Bosphorous into the Aegean Sea, so that a little bit of Turkey is in Europe, as are all what used to be called the “Iron Curtain” countries (and are now called “Eastern Europe” – bit of a giveaway that) and most of what was Russia until they got all expansionist under Ivan the Terrible. But you are right, Israel never was and never will be anything to do with Europe, nor will anywhere in the Caucasus.

  2. markwadsworth May 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    B, feel free to draw your own map, it’s all just judgment calls and other people’s are no better or worse than mine. By the way, my original blog has reinstated itself.

  3. Bayard May 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I think it’s a matter of international agreement where one continent ends and another begins, something to do with plate tectonics and not just where you decide to draw the line. See Wikipedia. (by the way, I was wrong about the Caucasus, they are in Yurp.

  4. Bayard May 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    “By the way, my original blog has reinstated itself.”

    It has? It’s still not updating beyond 10th May, AFAICS.

  5. markwadsworth May 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    B, it’s little to do with international agreement, and what the plate tectonic chaps have to say has little to do with subjective political-cultural considerations (i.e. west california is on a different plate to east california; Iceland is a completely new volcanic continent, Scotland is a bit of Canada which snapped off and the Canary Islands are actually part of Africa).

    Blogger seems to be working – a lot of posts and comments from Thursday went missing, but it’s been fine again since Friday evening, everybody else is posting again.

  6. Bayard May 16, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Well of course, Europe as a political-cultural entity differs from Europe as a geographical entity. Russia will never be part of the EU, but it still has it’s capital and ancient heartlands in geographical Europe. If you go to where the Trans-siberian railway crosses the Urals, there is a stone with “Europe” carved on one side and “Asia” carved on the other (in cyrillic, of course). As you say, politico-cultural Europe can be whatever you want it to be, but geographical Europe has fixed boundaries.

  7. markwadsworth May 16, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Just for clarity, I don’t think that “Europe” is an “entity”, and I didn’t use the word “Europe” in the post (the map was labelled rather too hastily), this is just my version of Tebbit’s cricket test, i.e. “countries I consider to be European” where I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if they entered the Eurovision Song Contest (which of course is not restricted to entries from any geographical area).

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