An open letter to TRT
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to you about Turkey’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, imploring you to reconsider your decision to not attend in 2016.
As a great fan of Eurovision, and of Turkish entries in particular, it deeply saddens me that you have withdrawn from the contest indefinitely. It is particularly disappointing that you have cited moral objections, as Eurovision is inherently about inclusion and diversity. The contest is a celebration of differences, with no one being unwelcome: even Australia attended this year! What makes Eurovision so great is the manifestation of diverse cultures, attitudes and beliefs all coming together in one event. While your government may have objections to certain events that have occurred within the contest, it is a great shame for you to remove yourself entirely.
The theme of inclusivity is extremely relevant now, with Turkey playing such a pivotal role in the current Syrian refugee crisis. Participating in Eurovision again would be a wonderful gesture of Turkey’s willingness to be a part of the European community, with a view to improving diplomatic relations with the rest of Europe. The political implications of Eurovision participation cannot be lost on you, with you yourselves initially withdrawing for political reasons. While the contest was initially established as a tool to unify Europe after World War II, it continues to foster harmony amongst European nations. In the face of a global humanitarian crisis, continental unity is critical and Eurovision holds the key.
Politics aside, it is worth noting that Turkey has had great Eurovision success in recent years. Reaching the top ten seven times in ten years is a remarkable feat, and one of which you must be proud. Your bold stage presentations and Mediterranean/oriental flavoured pop music products are a winning combination; the voting population cannot get enough. And just think, Eurovision 2017 held in Istanbul could even further strengthen Turkey’s relationship with the rest of Europe. This could be a key opportunity for you to use the recent popularity of Turkish music and culture to your advantage.
Looking closer to home, Eurovision is very popular within Turkey itself. This year, hotel searches for Vienna increased by 91% in Turkey, higher than in any other country in the world. Clearly there is still huge support for Eurovision within Turkey. It is a great shame that Turkish fans can no longer enjoy the broadcast from within their own country, in addition to not being represented on the stage.
Let’s not forget that there are approximately 150,000 Turkish people living in Sweden. They must also be very disappointed that a representative from their homeland will not be joining them in Stockholm. There are millions of Turkish people living across Europe who are actively involved with Eurovision, as displayed in Eurovision voting. Turkey has historically received the most points from Germany, which has the largest Turkish population in the world outside of Turkey, estimated at four million people. The second and third most points received have come from France and the Netherlands, who have the second and third largest Turkish populations in Europe. Vast numbers of Turkish people at home and abroad support Eurovision and they are being let down by your non-participation.
There are a multitude of reasons why Turkey should reconsider their position, but in the end it boils down to this: a Eurovision without Turkey does not feel complete. Something is missing. Your absence is felt deeply by all the fans, Turkish and otherwise, and we urge you to rejoin us.
Huge Eurovision fan