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15 March 2006

Slobodan who? *** FLASH! Serbia & Montenegro drop out of Eurovision Song Contest!

TOP: Winning band called No Name,
from Montenegro, were booed off the stage.

BOTTOM: Members of the Serbian
band Flamingoes said the vote
looked suspicious.

VLEEPTRON is more than one year old!
Readers who visited a year ago should recall what season it was then -- the runups to the Eurovision Song Contest, with all those wonderful, unforgettable songs! And here it is again!

From Lebanon to Malta to Portugal and Sweden, from Greece to Turkey, with even the occasional entry from the USA, the Eurovision contest was very cleverly envisioned as an annual cultural phenomenon with the unique power to bring different societies closer, and even make them all feel "European" somehow.

Usually the old traditional forces -- political, economic, military -- are more likely to keep these disparate societies and cultures apart and hostile, xenophobic and suspicious.

But for the huge television audience -- I'm sorta guessing the Target Age is around 14 to 27 -- the Eurovision contest has been an inspired scheme to guide millions of young people toward feeling more cohesive about Europe's future. The grand diplomatic and economic and mutual-security plans from Belgium haven't been exactly working as the Eurocrats had hoped. (Eurocrats don't exactly dream, but they do have rational hopes.)

But sequins and glitter and dazzling spotlights and Love Love Love Love Love and the electric thrill that your nation's act might get the Big Prize -- that's been working reliably since the 1950s. Kitsch or Termite Culture, call it what you will, laugh and sneer at it all you want. But year after year, it works. It's a shared sense of Big Europe that means something to millions of young people.

Well ... it works pretty well most of the time. Now and then there's a glitch, a punctured tire, even some soccer-hool-style Bad Vibes.

Agence-Vleeptron Presse is indebted to our Man On The Ground in Helvetia for bringing this year's ugly Eurovision Song Contest controvery in the suspicion-laden, hair-trigger Balkans to our attention.

In 1914, the royal assassinations in Sarajebo ignited the big explosion. This time, this event leading up to the Eurovision Song Contest, coming days after Milosevic's death in a Dutch prison cell, might spark the big blaze.

After all, it's 2006, the Year of the Cartoon Riots. It's all about culture. People take their Eurovision Song Contest candidates very seriously.




Serbia and Montenegro withdraw

A meeting held today between broadcasters RTS (Serbia) and RTCG (Montenegro) resulted in a withdrawal from the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.

"The final was an embarrassment for the country because it was dishonest and politically marked", although many people. Irregularities have been directly connected to the political situation. The day after the Eurovision Song contest 2006 a referendum for independence of Montenegro will take place.

"the Serbian-Montenegrin facts"

On the day Slobodan Milosevic (64) died, the Serbian-Montenegrin finale took place to select the participant for Athens. The group No Name was selected to try again in Athens with the song "Moja ljubavi".

The Serbian broadcaster RTS did not officially recognise "No Name" as winner of the national final. RTS already suggested to use the televoting results only, instead of the controversial jury voting. In that case, the Flamingos would represent Serbia & Montenegro in Athens.

The withdrawal could mean for the country they could be banned in the next year at the song contest and they are liable to pay the fee to the European Broadcasting Union.


Tuesday 14 March 2006

Serbia and Montenegro
in pop song row

Tensions between Serbia and Montenegro have spilled over into the Eurovision song contest, which has a history of intense national rivalry.

An argument is raging over which band should represent the federation of Serbia and Montenegro in the contest.

A Montenegrin boy band called No Name won a televised competition in Belgrade to choose the best song -- but they were booed by the audience, who cried foul.

The Montenegrin judges on the panel were accused of tactical voting.

After the vote on Saturday night the band took to the stage to sing their winning song again, but in the face of the mainly Serb audience's hostility, they soon gave up without having sung a note.

The Serb runners-up, Flamingoes, then appeared to the clear delight of the audience.

Angry crowd

Passions were running so high at Belgrade's Sava Centre concert hall that the judges and the Montenegrin group had to be escorted out by security officials.

Speaking on Sunday, former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic said the furore had caused "much more excitement last night than the death of [former Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic."

A Flamingoes band member called Marinko told Serbian TV he was "totally convinced that some ulterior motives are at play here, in this area where there is no room for such things."

The BBC's World Media correspondent, Sebastian Usher, says the contest is being treated as a huge scandal in Montenegro.

The republic is due to hold a referendum in May on whether it wants full independence from Serbia. By coincidence it will be held the day after the Eurovision contest.

Several Montenegrin newspapers say the row shows that the federation with Serbia not only fails to work politically or economically, but cannot even function musically.

A viewer told Montenegrin TV that "the Belgrade audience should have shown some respect for the No Name band -- their behaviour was really not on."

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