Kosovo: RTK’s statement about Kosovo’s debut in Eurovision 2018

by Sanjay (Sergio) Jiandani 9,019 views

Will we see Kosovo debut at the forthcoming 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon? ESCToday has contacted RTK, the Kosovan national broadcaster, in order to shed more light on the matter. We bring you a statement from the RTK’s Director General Mr. Mentor Shala regarding Kosovo’s participation in our favorite television show.

There has been much speculation and anticipation regarding the potential participation of Kosovo at the Eurovision Song Contest.

RTK’s response

ESCToday got in touch with RTK to find out if Kosovo was joining the Eurovision family in  Lisbon next year. Mr Mentor Shala the Director General of the Kosovan national broadcaster told ESCToday:

RTK has responded to all EBU requests for its participation in ESC. Last year the Reference Group for ESC gave a positive opinion of Kosovo’s participation in ESC but under one condition if the host is a country that has recognized Kosovo’s independence. Since Ukraine did not recognize Kosovo’s independence, we did not have the opportunity to participate in ESC.

After Portugal’s victory in Ukraine, we were sure we would take part in ESC as Portugal has recognized Kosovo’s independence. the Reference Group again gave a positive opinion of Kosovo’s participation in ESC for 2018. We also applied formally and had many references from many organizations that supported us in this regard. And we were very confident that the news would be positive. But we were very surprised when a letter from EBU came to us telling us that Kosovo for the moment can not participate in ESC because it is not a member of the UN.

This is an absurd reason when we consider that Kosovo is admitted to all Federations and other world organizations such as UEFA, FIFA, FIBA, WB, Olimpic Games, IMF, ABU, etc etc. We know that Kosovo can not be accepted as a full member of the EBU without being a member of the UN and we did not ask for such a thing. We just wanted to sing at ESC!

It’s not at all fair and there is no reason to block a country to attend a song festival like ESC. We are very sorry that a non-political organization like the EBU is politically acting in the case of Kosovo. We will not stop in our efforts to participate in ESC and I am very sure we will achieve our goal.

Thus RTK, the Kosovan national broadcaster has confirmed to ESCToday that Kosovo will not debut at the forthcoming 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon.

EBU membership requirements

Kosovo is not a member of the ITU (International Television Union), one of the key requirements to become an active EBU member. Thus RTK is not an EBU member and is currently ineligible to join the contest. The country is neither a member of the United Nations or the Council of Europe. The Eurovision Song Contest has been broadcast live in the Balkan country in recent years.

The EBU’s response

ESCToday contacted the EBU earlier this year in order clarify Kosovo’s potential ESC participation and we got the following answer:

Kosovo cannot take part in the Eurovision Song Contest because they are neither an EBU Member or Associate. The statutes of the EBU say that a Member must come from a country that is a Member of the International Telecommunications Union or is a Member of the Council of Europe. Kosovo is in neither. The EBU helped set up Kosovo’s public service broadcaster RTK in 1999 and it continues to work closely with RTK to protect public service media in Kosovo. The ESC Reference Group is however mandated to make exception to the Rules on a case by case basis.

Eurovision 2018

The 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled to be held on 8, 10 and 12 May in Lisbon, Portugal.

The deadline for broadcasters to officially apply for Eurovision 2018 concluded on 15 September. Hereafter, countries have a grace period to confirm their participation or withdraw their application without a penalty until 10 October.

The final list of the 2018 Eurovision participating countries is expected to be released by the EBU later during the year.