Will Turkey ever return to Eurovision?
This weekend, October 29, is Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayrami) in Turkey. It is a public holiday that commemorates the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey.
To mark the day we're focusing on Turkey's involvement in Eurovision including their departure, and one day hopefully, their possible return.
So before we focus on the hopes of many to see Turkey back at Eurovision, we need to look back at Turkey's past in the Contest.
Debut and struggles
It was back in 1975 that Turkey first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, and it was not without drama. Because of Turkey's participation, Greece withdrew from the Contest which was said to be due to Turkey's recent invasion of Cyprus. For Turkey, their first efforts were not fruitful and they finished in last place.
Because of this rocky start, Turkey decided not to come back to the Contest until two years later in 1978. However, their return was short-lived as they withdrew from the completion in 1979 because of pressure from neighbouring countries of Turkey performing in Jerusalem which hosted that year.
The 1980s were a little more steady for Turkey at Eurovision, but they struggled to get results, finishing last on two occasions both with zero points. In fact, they only had one Top 10 result until 1997 when Şebnem Paker teamed up with Grup Etnik to deliver the iconic performance of 'Dinle', placing them in 3rd.
The 2000s really seemed to be the glory years for Turkey which continued to be rather successful, cementing itself as a powerhouse nation at Eurovision.
In 2003 Turkey had their first win with Sertab Erener's 'Everyday That I Can'. The narrow victory (by just two points) was controversial as it was Turkey's first entry entirely in English and because of the risqué outfits Sertab and her backup dancers wore.
In addition to their win, they had four more top 10 finishes during the 2000s including the iconic performance of 'Düm Tek Tek'.
In 2010, Turkey missed out on their second win when rock group maNga brought us 'We Could Be the Same' which finished in 2nd place. This established rock group bought us pyrotechnics and robots and this song remains a fan favourite of lovers of the rock genre at Eurovision.
Sadly, 2012 was to be Turkey's last appearance at Eurovision. Turkey's decision to leave the competition was cited to dissatisfaction of the return of jury scoring to the voting system.
The return of the jury vote towards the final rankings hurt Turkey whose success had really kicked off when the public vote was introduced in 1997. Also, the introduction of the Big Five automatically qualifying for the Grand Final was said to be another factor in the decision to leave the Contest.
In 2013 and 2014, Turkey did not even televise the competition on its network, TRT. The conservative broadcaster revealed it had been displeased at Conchita Wurst competing in the 2014 competition.
The broadcaster stated in 2018 that,
"As a public broadcaster, we also cannot broadcast live at 9 p.m. — when children are still awake — someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt, do not believe in genders and says that he is both a man and a woman.”
Could Turkey return?
Since 2013, there have been many rumours about Turkey's return to Eurovision. Each year, fans eagerly await the announcement of competing countries, but each year, we are left disappointed at the exclusion of Turkey in the list
In Aussievision's own Eurovision fan survey, Turkey comes out on top each year when participants are asked which nation they would like to see return.
In the years following their withdrawal, Turkey continued to show little interest in returning citing "a lack of moral standards".
In 2018, however, there was some hope when previous winner Sertab Erener went live on social media saying that Turkey would be returning that year and that she hoped to be the nation's representative.
Unfortunately, hopes were dashed as the head of the Turkish broadcaster, Ibrahim Eren, said that "mental chaos at the EBU because of its executives" was the reason that they would not return. However, he also said if those issues could be "fixed", Turkey would again join the competition.
In 2021, fans' hopes were raised again when EBU released a statement for the first time about Turkey in the Contest saying:
“Although the EBU’s Turkish Member TRT hasn’t participated in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2012 we know there is still huge interest in Turkey in the Contest underlined by the large amount of engagement on our social channels from Turkish fans. With that in mind, we are in contact with TRT with the aim of bringing them back into the competition. TRT has made a huge contribution to the Contest in the past, including hosting the event in Istanbul in 2004, and we would very much welcome them back should they decide to participate again.”
Following these statement and with a number of withdrawals this year, it was hoped by fans that we may see Turkey at Eurovision 2023. However, it was not to be..
2023 elections dent hopes
In May this year, the Turkish elections were held. The Republican People's Party had previously expressed support for Turkey's re-entry into the competition. They hinted that things may change in the future should there be a change of government. However, the elections did not go in the favour of the Republican People's Party, and they were not elected.
One thing that may help Turkey's return is the change to the rules which sees qualification to the Grand Final now based solely on the public vote, which has always been in Turkey's favour.
However, in the six months since Eurovision 2023, the rumour mill has gone rather quiet regarding a potential return to Eurovision in the future. While it is hoped by many fans that we may see Turkey return to Eurovision in the future, we will just have to wait and see.
Let's see what happens for the 2024 contest...!
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