The newly elected president of the Danish OGAE fanclub has sent out a press release suggesting that DR and other broadcasters simply boycott the coming 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest due to a human right issue in relation to the building of the new arena. EBU denies that it is related.
In Azerbaijan they are working on building a new arena that can host the Eurovision Song Contest in May, but if this project is not to be further delayed 65 houses needs to be taken down and the ground cleared. Before that can be done the 300 people living in them needs to leave their house – and that is where a new problem arises. If people do not move voluntarily before New Year’s Eve they will be physically thrown out – but there is no place for them to go.
The Azeri government have not yet offered an actual compensation, but each family are likely to be able to recieve an amount equal to less than half the market value, which in most cases will mean that they are forced to leave a larger apartment in the center of Baku and find a much smaller one on the edge to the city.
President of OGAE Denmark, the Danish branche of the international Eurovision fanclub, Johann Sørensen is so unsatisfied with this that he has sent out a press release suggesting the broadcasters to boycott the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. He says that "if the authorities in Azerbaijan can figure out to repsect the human rights and offer a proper compensation then EBU should find another country to host the contest". He do see the EBU, the European Broadcasting Union, as some who should play a role in this: If EBU can’t get Azerbaijan to stick to the human rights and EBU remains having Azerbiajan as host country then I do believe that Denmark should boycott the competition".
EuroVisionary contacted EBU about the situation and Jarmo Siim, Communications Director says that these houses are not being torn down due to the building of the new arena for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest: "During a recent visit to Baku, we observed that the construction of the concert hall media reports refer to is already well underway on a clean construction site and thus there are no demolitions needed. However, the City of Baku has been undergoing extensive construction work for the past years already, and the reported demolitions might be related to general infrastructural activities, not at all necessarily related to the Eurovision Song Contest".
That goes against a report from BBC, which states that people are being forced away from their homes to make space for the new concert hall. No matter what then it is clear that things are quite a bit delayed this year as there is not yet an actual arena chosen for the event simply because no one knows if Azerbaijan will manage to finish the building of the new one in time to host the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Jarmo Siim says about that situation: "The City of Baku is indeed building a new concert hall, but that is not being built for the sole purpose of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. Only if it is finished in time, it might be used to host the contest, but that decision has not been approved by us yet. Also, we have not requested the City of Baku to construct such hall for the purpose of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. There are other suitable venues in Baku as well, and the decision to build a new concert hall in their city is of course up to them".
Johann Sørensen, Danish OGAE president, who suggested boycotting the contest if EBU does not interfere here is being met with the usual words from EBU about not using the Eurovision Song Contest for political statements and issues: "Most importantly, we highly value the non-political character of the Eurovision Song Contest. The organisation of the contest is in the hands of the public broadcaster of Azerbaijan and the EBU, not in the hands of the government. We do not allow the contest to be used for political purposes, and certainly do not use the Eurovision Song Contest to put political pressure on governmental organisations".
The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan with semi-finals on the 22nd and 24th of May and the grand final on Saturday the 26th. Rehearsals usually starts two weeks before the final, at which time everything needs to be ready.