Azerbaijan Demands Apology From Iran Over Eurovision


Voice of America

May 24 2012

Azerbaijan has demanded a formal apology from Iran for its recent
statements in connection with Baku’s hosting of the Eurovision song

A spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday called the
statements “insulting” and said the government expects an apology
from Tehran as soon as possible.

Azerbaijani protesters rallied outside the Iranian Embassy in Baku
last week to denounce Iran’s perceived anti-Azerbaijani policies and
violation of the rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran. During
the rally, demonstrators displayed photos of Iran’s president and
the country’s spiritual leader with critical comments.

The protests were held in response to ongoing demonstrations in cities
across Iran against Azerbaijan’s cooperation with the West and its
hosting of Eurovision, Europe’s biggest songfest, which protest
organizers believe is against Islamic principles.

Iran on Monday recalled its envoy to Azerbaijan for consultations.

Azerbaijan has come under global scrutiny with the start of Eurovision
earlier this week. Baku sees the competition as a chance to boost its
image, while activist groups are seeking to use the occasion to draw
attention to their campaigns.

An estimated 120 million people worldwide will watch Eurovision,
which holds its final on Saturday.

Armenia has said it is boycotting the Eurovision contest.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have long engaged in a dispute about the
enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority ethnic Armenian region deep
inside Azerbaijan.

The region declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1988, triggering
a six-year war that claimed 35,000 lives and left more than 1 million
people homeless.

International efforts to broker a peace deal have failed, and border
tensions between Armenian-backed forces and Azerbaijani troops
remain high.

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