The second most popular tabloid news paper in Norway, Dagbladet, used its entire front page yesterday to proclaim that Latvians may start boycotting Norwegian products. In Latvian media, the blunder of an Norwegian interval act has reached immense proportions. Latvians have taken the whole case very personally and are feeling a mixture of grief, anxiety, disbelief, shock, insult and despair.
Yesterday, loyal Dagbladet readers were met with a front page (pictured) screaming: “Rage against Norway and NRK: Latvians threaten to boycott after 'Grand Prix' blunder”. The word boycott used as the eye catching headline and with Jostein Hasselgård, the Norwegian participant in Riga, as the background picture. The amount of headlines have been even greater in Latvia, were all the national news papers as well as the two main broadcasters have dedicated a lot of time, space and effort to the not very flattering story.
Ilze Burkovska, foreign correspondent in Norway for Diena, Latvia's most popular news paper, said the following in an interview with Dagbladet: “I cried heavily when I was watching it. My mother from Latvia, who is spending her holidays here at the moment, had to take pills to calm her nerves after having seen the interval act. What have we done to deserve this? Nothing!”
She continues, telling about how her compatriots have reacted: “The reactions I have received from Latvians can be classified into two groups. A lot of people feel hurt, and several people have said to me that we should do something similar in return. They perceive this as the drop of a brick an unacceptable action , and are considering whether or not to boycott Norwegian shops in Riga, where 'Rimi' food chain has an important share of the market. Others consider speaking of Stockholm when they are referring to Oslo during the Eurovision Song Contest in Riga, something we know that Norwegians wouldn't appreciate. Some have said that finally we are aware of why Swedes tell jokes about Norwegians. I feel somewhat pity for the Norwegian 'Grand Prix' winner. He will get a nice reception in Latvia, but the people in general will be resistant. It will not be forgotten easily. Latvians can still remember that we received the maximum amount of points from Norway during the Eurovision Song Contest some years ago in 2000 .”
Juris Tihonovs, the chief editor of the international news section in Diena, expressed the following to Dagbladet: “People are really accursed. It may be funny for Norwegians, but for us, this is the same as if we had made a funny performance with a Norwegian group called 'Quisling' who would be singing in German. This is completely stupid. A lot of people reacted by saying that Norwegians are just as ignorant as Americans.” He adds that Norway most certainly won't receive a single point from Latvia on May 24 in Riga: “We will not forget this occurrence immediately, but the Norwegian delegation will not arrive tomorrow. A fact they should be pleased with. But people have already started declaring that zero points will be the account from Latvia to Norway this year.”
Meanwhile, Jostein Hasselgård's song is increasing its popularity among fans. I'm not afraid to move on is currently third in Eureka's popular poll where already 550 people have voted.