France and the United Kingdom automatically qualifies for the Grand Final alongside the other Big Five countries – Italy, Spain, Germany .Host country Ukraine also qualifies.
And we start of course with Italy the absolute favorite of this year but as Francesco Gabbani from Italy is the favourite to win Eurovision 2017 with his rather unique track Occidentalis Karma, in which he dances alongside an ape. Surrealistic but with a nice outcome! The track is already a viral smash in Italy where it went gold within a week, double platinum within the month . Occidentalis Karma achieved 50 million YouTube views making it the most viewed Eurovision song ever on the site, and it hasn’t even been performed at the contest yet.
PORTUGAL has chosen Salvador Sobral to represent them at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and now he’s made the final after the first semi-final last Tuesday.
Portugal have never won Eurovision before, but since their performance tonight, they’ve shot up to second favourites in the betting. They might just win the whole thing this weekend.
The 27-year-old singer competed on the third series of Idolos, Portugal’s version of Pop Idol in 2009.It seems that talent runs in Salavdor’s family as his sister, Luísa Sobral, also competed in the Portuguese contest coming third in the first season.
Salvador Sobral entered a national competition to become the artist that would represent Portugal in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
The show, Festival da Canção 2017, was organised by Portuguese broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal and involved two semi finals followed by a grand final on March 5.
Our third favorite isLucie Jones for the United Kingdom. Lucie found fame on The X Factor before establishing herself as a musical theatre actress with roles in Les Miserables, We Will Rock You, Legally Blonde: The Musical, RENT and Ghost: The Musical. Her song is called Never Give Up On You and was co-written by Emmelie de Forest, who won Eurovision 2013 for Denmark.
“There is nothing else like Eurovision in the world!” she said. “A music competition that brings together people from all over the world is an incredible thing and to be part of such a wonderful event will be a true highlight of not just my career but my life.”
For UK’s online magazine the Guardian Lucie will probably not win because of British politics.
In part that’s because of the annoying irony that mere months after we voted for Brexit, the UK entry is called Never Give Up on You. The song is, if you think about it, Theresa May turned through 180 degrees: Lucie’s message to Europe is Brexit doesn’t mean Brexit. That won’t wash in Extremadura or Wrocław.
My guess is that Eurovision audiences in Kiev won’t buy this inversion. Instead, they’ll boo Britain for Brexiting and make the UK into this year’s Russia.
Historically, Russia existed in Eurovision to be booed – for human rights abuses, for seizing Crimea and for having a president who takes off his top for photoshoots.
La France est bien sûr aussi un favori cette année-là.French entry Alma studied a business degree and began writing music while at college abroad. She eventually moved to Paris, where she began work on a debut album, to be released this month.
Following the huge success of Amir, France’s representative in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (6th place), France 2 and France 4 have joined forces once again in 2017. The upcoming young talent Alma will fly the flag for France in Kyiv this Saturday with her song Requiem which was written and composed by Nazim Khaled.
Whilst she deals with universal themes including love and even death, Alma brings a very personal approach. The poetic and dreamlike Requiem tells of Alma’s quest for never-ending love and showcases her unique voice.
Bulgaria this year is represented by Kristian Kostov is a 17-year-old singer who was born in Moscow, Russia, to a Bulgarian father and Kazakh mother. He moved to his native Bulgaria to take part in the country’s version of X Factor, finishing second in the competition in 2016.
He’s released two hit singles to date in Bulgaria, including a collaboration with rappers Pavell & Venci Venc’ on the particularly popular Vdigam Level.
The video, which seems to have taken inspiration from Woodkid’s “Iron”, has a Game of Thrones vibe, which is fitting given the series’ focus on redemption and strife.
Bulgaria’s song main character is a youngster who is facing a world full of darkness that he is living in and is searching for an oasis of light for him and the people he is willing to fight for. Country’s project this year is dedicated to all young people, urging them to define themselves and fight for the values they believe in according to Wiwibloggs.
For the rest of the top 10 this year we predict Armenia, Sweden, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Romania, Israel or Belgium.
Armenia’s entry Fly With Me was composed by Lilith and Levon Navasardyan, who are known to Eurovision fans for Aram MP3’s Not Alone from the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, Mika’s Love (Junior Eurovision 2015) and Iveta Mukuchyan’s LoveWave from last year.
According to AMPTV, both the music and lyrics were inspired by this year’s slogan for the Eurovision Song Contest; Celebrate Diversity. Featuring folk and traditional rhythms and elements not only from Armenia, but also from Europe, Africa and even Asia, Fly With Me showcases the beauty of diversity and proves that our stories and voices are the vivid colours of this world.
Sweden will participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 with his soulful pop song “I Can’t Go On” written by David Kreuger, Hamed “K-One” Pirouzpanah and Robin Stjernberg. The song will be performed by Robin Bengtsson.
Sweden has participated in Eurovision since 1958, and with six victories and six spots in the top five, it is one of the most successful countries to date.
Joci Pápai, a Hungarian Roma, has won the Hungarian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, A Dal 2017, with the song Origo and will thus represent Hungary in Kyiv this saturday after he passed last night’s semi-final.
Every time we tweet, retweet, write a blog post, or publish an article about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, we become unwilling combatants in a decades long war that, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know very little about. The so-called ‘frozen conflict’ (a cleverly configured yet analytically useless oxymoron if there ever was one) is less about the contested territory that spawned it, and more about deflecting attention away from two illiberal regimes that have grown disparagingly repressive and inattentive to the needs of their people. In this sense, the attention we give it, void any meaningful details about the conditions on the front, or developments leading to its resolution, end up boosting, in one way or another, these regime’s efforts to one-up each other in the world of social media and world opinion.
Both the Azerbaijani and Armenian governments have spent enormous sums on building up their armed forces, while their economies have grown increasingly fragile, and their populations despondent about the status quo. Azerbaijan has squandered more than $20 billion on defense spending over the last decade. By some accounts, its annual spending is greater than Armenia’s entire state budget. Meanwhile, Armenia has been forced to accept Russian military assistance and military bases on their territory in order to keep up with their neighbor in the vain hope that a Russian presence will act as a deterrent. Each side is locked into a dangerous and illusory game that spending more, or acquiring the latest technology, will give them the edge over the other. It won’t.
Azerbaijan maintains friendly and partner relations with Turkey, Georgia, Russia and Iran. It has problems only with Armenia, which occupied 20% of Azerbaijani lands and holds them under occupation for over 20 years.
In 1988, the Armenians of Karabakh voted to secede and join Armenia. This, along with mutual massacres in Azerbaijan and Armenia resulted in the conflict that became known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The violence resulted in de facto Armenian control of former NKAO and seven surrounding Azerbaijani regions which was effectively halted when both sides agreed to observe a cease-fire which has been in effect since May 1994. In late 1995, both also agreed to mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group. The Minsk Group is currently co-chaired by the US, France, and Russia and comprises Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and several Western European nations. Despite the cease fire, up to 40 clashes are reported along the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict lines of control each year.
On June 24, 2011, the two sides met in Kazan, Russia, to negotiate an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue but the talks ended in failure. Following the breakdown of talks, the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev used the June 26 Salvation Day military parade to warn Armenia that Azerbaijan may retake Nagorno-Karabakh by force. On 5 October 2011, border clashes around Nagorno Karabakh left one Armenian soldier and two Azeris dead. Two Armenians were also wounded by sniper fire the same day. Another a violent incident occurred on 5 June 2012 when, according to the Azerbaijani side, Armenian troops crossed the border and shot dead five Azerbaijani soldiers before withdrawing. Armenia denied the claim and accused Azerbaijan of crossing the border first.
The minister of national defense of Turkey Vecdi Gonul recently quoted that Azerbaijan is the most important strategic partner for Turkey in the region and there are close relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey which produces military defense systems. Turkey attaching great importance to Azerbaijani defense industry’s development and the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Turkey is closely watching the processes related to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and supports the efforts to resolve it within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. At the multilateral platforms and during the dialogue with third countries, Turkey, as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, always raises the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is considered our problem as well.
But there is a fact that the OSCE Minsk Group hasn’t been able to achieve serious progress throughout 20 years in the conflict’s settlement. Turkey fully supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the most important and priority issues in Ankara’s foreign policy. Turkey will continue to support the righteous fight of Azerbaijan and will always keep this issue on the agenda.
Is there a possibility for a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
Trends in military spending also point toward a preparation for war. Azerbaijan spent 4.64% of their GDP in 2010 on military, 4.7% in 2013, and has reportedly increased by 27% in 2015, to $3.6 billion USD. Armenian military spending has increased from 3.92% of GDP in 2010 to 4.1% in 2013. In 2014, the Armenian government increased their spending to 4.2%.
In July 2015, Azerbaijan began military exercises, with officials informing hospitals that they should “take the necessary measures to prepare for possible military action that can take place at any moment.” These exercises have also seemingly involved increased cooperation and collaboration with Turkish and Georgian militaries.
As a result of these trends, private business interests in the Caspian Sea may also be under substantial risk if the conflict were to escalate. Petroleum pipelines attempting to diversify Europe’s energy profile as well as wean it off of Russia will be threatened by a conflict in the region.
Significant regional risk for energy companies
The regional risks described above will have major ramifications for businesses, and may increase political risk in the months to come. British Petroleum (BP) began a relationship with the government of Azerbaijan in 1994, to develop the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG), which was further developed with a group of 11 other oil companies.
According to BP, Q1 2015 saw production reach 661,000 barrels of oil per day. Moreover, the company’s total investment as of 2014 was $30 billion, making BP the largest stakeholder of this project at 35.8%. The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) is the second largest stakeholder at 11.6%, followed by Chevron Corporation, INPEX Corporation, Statoil ASA, Exxon Mobil, the Turkish Petroleum Company, Itochu Corporation, and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
Petroleum produced through ACG is exported through the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline which goes north to Russia, as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Main Export Oil Pipeline, which passes through Georgia and ends in Ceyhan, Turkey on the Mediterranean coast. There is also the Western Export Pipeline, which carries oil to the Georgian Black Sea coastal city of Supsa. The intricate system of pipelines also involves natural gas exports to Erzurum, Turkey, as well as a series of proposed future gas pipelines.
After dissolution of Georgia from Soviet Union, Turkey immediately recognized independence of Georgia. Besides energy, security and economic affairs these two neighboring countries promoted cooperation in military field. The significant aids and supports of Turkish Armed Forces to this neighboring country have served public diplomacy power of Turkey in Georgia.
Turkey highly values the regional cooperation projects realized so far. Strategic projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Crude Oil Pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) Natural Gas Pipeline are of utmost importance for the two countries. Additionally, the timely finalization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway Project will provide a new impetus to regional cooperation.
Two military agreements between these two countries for “Scientific and Technological Cooperation” were signed in 1996 and 1997. In addition to that a military protocol was signed between Gendarmerie General Command of Turkey and Internal Forces Command of Georgia on Education and Logistical Support in 2001. With these agreements and protocols Turkey gave high level support to the military personnel of Georgia. Also Georgian military personnel participated to the courses in NATO School of “Partnership for Peace Center” in Ankara.
Turkey also opened her military schools to the Georgian Cadets. Under the Protocol of Military Students Exchange Program Georgian Cadets are coming to Kuleli Military High School then going to the Military Academy or directly to the Military Academies of Turkey for four years of academic education. Upon graduation they are joining to their national Army/Navy/Air Forces as a rank of Lieutenant. There are also some Georgian students educating on behalf of Georgian Armed Forces at the Gulhane Military Medical Academy to be a medical doctor.
Beyond supports in the academic field Turkey supply Georgian Army personnel NATO experience in NATO missions. Despite non-NATO membership of Georgia, Georgian troops are working under the command of Turkish troops in these missions. NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) is a good example to this case of military partnership. One Georgian Platoon is serving under the command of Turkish Battalion deployed in Prizren. Working side by side is increasing mutual understanding and bilateral relations between two different groups of people.
Turkish Special Forces also gave field training to Georgia’s Commando and Special Forces personnel. The aim of these trainings was to increase the fighting capabilities of troops under difficult terrain conditions. Another objective of these trainings was to reach the Georgian Army to NATO standards. Turkey also donated very special equipments to the Georgian Armed Forces for using in these kinds of operations.
Maybe one of the significant supports of Turkey to the Georgia was Marneuli Air Base modernization project. This was an old Base built in 1940s by Soviet Union. Electronic systems were old and installations were neglected of this military airport. Turkish Air Force Maintenance Group reconstructed the runway and infrastructure of the base in accordance with the NATO standards.
There are also some field exercises taking place between the armies in Caucasus. These exercises increase practices and mutual understanding among military personnel. The latest one with the name of “Eagle of Caucasus” Special Forces exercises executed between the dates May 31- June 10, 2015 in Turkey. Selected Special Forces personnel participated to this activity from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The main objective of this exercise was to increase knowledge and experience sharing, improve friendship, collaboration, coordination, and ability to act together.
All these activities took place between the armed forces of two neighboring counties are serving to promote solidarity between the three countries. And here are some positive feedbacks supporting this argument.
Turkey and Armenia
Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia after they are frozen due to the dispute over the massacres from 1915 of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Yerevan regards as genocide, a term Ankara vehemently rejects.
Today, Armenians, as well as most historians around the world, claim that 1.5 million of their ancestors were deliberately and systematically killed in the modern world’s first genocide. There are no exact, indisputable figures for the number of lives lost, but the magnitude of the catastrophe is incontestable.
The official Turkish position, however, has softened over the course of the last decade.
In April 2014, the former Prime Minister and current President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a statement recognizing the significance of April 24th for Armenians around the world. He described the historic events as “inhumane” and offered condolences to the grandchildren of those who lost their lives. Erdoğan’s declaration fell short of issuing an apology or acknowledging genocide as such, but nonetheless marked a fundamental change in the nation’s approach to comprehending and addressing the events of 1915.
This year, however, the Turkish government resolved to push the observance back to April 24-25, coinciding with the Armenian commemorations and the centennial of the ANZAC landings on 25 April 1915. Both President Erdoğan and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan have issued competing invitations for their respective events, although Erdoğan’s letter to his Armenian counterpart came months later, and has been denounced by many as a crude distraction.
Regardless of Erdoğan’s manipulation of the Armenian issue for political purposes, there are other manifestations of a new openness within Turkey. Some Armenian churches that survived outright destruction and decades of neglect are being restored and a few have reopened for services. There are plans to construct a new Christian church in Istanbul, which would be the first built since 1923. Of the hundreds of Armenian properties confiscated by the Turkish state, some are now being returned to their rightful owners, or alternative compensation is being provided.
The idea of establishing diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and opening the border as a step toward reconciliation is not new. In fact, this proposal originally emerged in Armenia itself, immediately after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 under the government of Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Diplomatic relations with Turkey and the establishment of a new international border, on what had previously been the USSR’s frontier, were seen in Yerevan as a means of mitigating the dire economic consequences of the Soviet Union’s collapse and the ongoing humanitarian crisis resulting from the devastating earthquake of 1988.
Turkey and Armenia Beyond 2015
Moving beyond the anniversary of 2015, however, will be a significant challenge. Armenian distrust in Turkey’s intentions was exacerbated by the April 24th Gallipoli commemoration rescheduling and invitation.
This will inhibit progress in the near future. Once April 24th has passed, the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will continue to plague Turkish-Armenian relations. As analysts in both Ankara and Yerevan admitted in the authors’ meetings, underestimating Azerbaijan’s fierce objections to the 2009 Protocols was a “strategic mistake” for both sides. Azerbaijan’s reactions will now have to be factored into any future steps toward diplomatic normalization.
Similarly, Russia’s relations with both Turkey and Armenia will remain a complicating factor, with analysts stressing that Ankara and Yerevan will have to make a strong case to Moscow that opening the border would benefit Russia economically and politically. Many diplomats and regional experts suggested, as a result, that both countries should focus on small, “under the radar” projects and informal contacts to pave the way for returning to the basic tenets of the 2009 Protocols. Turkey and Armenia should avoid large, conspicuous initiatives that might provoke adverse reactions from either Azerbaijan or Russia.