Lisbon 2018

RTK looking for possible Kosovo Eurovision début

If it were up to RTK, Kosovo would make their début in the Eurovision Song Contest as soon as 2018. There are some issues on the way, so how likely is it that Kosovo will début?

The wish to participate

RTK have published several articles on their own possible participation in Eurovision. They feel politics deserve no place at the contest and would love to take the stage as soon as they can. They’ve had that wish ever since their declaration of independence, almost ten years ago.

Lindita Halimi is originally from Kosovo (ATA)

RTK have been allowed to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest for years and have been invited to participate in Eurovision Young Dancers back in 2011. There’s no lack of possible participants either. Both Rona Nishliu and Lindita Halimi, who have represented Albania in Eurovision, are from Kosovo. There are also multiple international stars holding Kosovar citizenship, such as Rita Ora and Dua Lipa.

According to Magazina, RTK have received guarantees from EBU. Those guarantees would allegedly include that Kosovo would be allowed to début if the host country of next year’s Eurovision decided that it would indeed be possible. Portugal does not seem to have issues with them, recognising their independence back in 2008 already.

The obstacles in their way

The main issue is the most obvious one. RTK are not an EBU member, nor have they applied to become one. Sure, they might want to, but to even apply for membership, the country needs to be a member of the ITU, the International Telecommunication Union. They’re not a full member there yet, but they’re making progress, receiving a country dialling code for phone numbers in December 2016. With the dialling code, ITU added that it had not (and possibly would not) recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Independence is the other word you’d need to mention. Kosovo has been recognised as an independent state by more than half the countries in the world (114 to be precise). Sounds good, but thirteen of this year’s Eurovision participants do not recognise Kosovo. Serbia have attempted to normalise relations between the two, but for example Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do not. Greece on the other hand have said they don’t support independence, but they would back Kosovo with participation in international events.

Two major Eurovision countries – Russia and Spain – may however stand in the way of an RTK début. Neither of those recognise Kosovo and there doesn’t seem to be much room for changes there. It’s however also not quite sure how they’d react if the EBU would indeed allow Kosovo to début.

EBU themselves have also been changing back and forth. After allowing Kosovo into Eurovision Young Dancers in 2011, positivity seemed to be on the way. However, when EBU banned several flags from being waved at Eurovision, the Kosovo flag was banned alongside the Nagorno-Karabakh one and several others. Eventually, their flag was taken off the banned list, but it still set a sign.

Eternal discussion or time for action?

It seems this discussion could be going for quite a while. After all, we’ve been having the same discussion for the past nine or ten years. On the other hand, if said guarantees do in fact exist, then what would stop RTP from inviting RTK to Lisbon to create possibly the biggest Eurovision ever? On the other hand, how would EBU handle possible objections from almost a third of its participating members?

All of these are questions to think about in the next weeks or months. It’s well worth discussing what a possible début could or would mean to the contest, to Kosovo itself and to others involved.

How do you feel about Kosovo’s possible participation? Do you think it’ll happen soon? For now, relive Rona Nishliu’s 2012 participation below!

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Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

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