If Eurovision is one's passion, the contest determines every year where you are going in May for a weekend, a week or even more than two weeks, like we usually do as staff of this website. For us it is about time to get to know this year's winning country: Azerbaijan. We dived into it, these are our Twelve Points about Azerbaijan:
"1" | "Always on my mind, always all the time"
Azerbaijan and Eurovision. A few years after Armenia's first entry to the Eurovision, Azerbaijan joined the club in 2008. Seemingly determined to win the contest as fast as possibly, with the victory machine running full speed in the last two years. All Azerbaijani entries so far managed to make it to the Eurovision final, and in this final even to the top ten. With an average score of 176.25, Azerbaijan has the highest average score of all countries that ever participated in the Eurovision Song Contest. Wether Eurovision and Azerbaijan can be called a perfect match is still to be seen however. Only the 2008 entry Day after Day can be called a true Azerbaijani song, incorporating Azeri folk music combined with opera. The songs submitted in the three years after that, Always, Drip Drop and Running Scared, where composed and written by foreign partners, mainly from Sweden, the US and Greece, and produced by a Ukrainian agency. But all of this said, it remains an amazing achievement that many other country is envious about!
"2" | "Aman petrol, caným petrol"
"Baku is a city founded upon oil, for to its inexhaustible founts of naphtha it owes its very existence, its maintenance, its prosperity". The first oil was drilled in the vicinty of Baku in the beginning of the 19th century, but wells alreqdy had been providing oil for lamps for a thousand years by then. Still today oil is the largest industry of the country. Nowadays most of the country's oil is drilled offshore, at sea. Since 2006 the second biggest oil pipeline in the world is connecting Baku via Tbilisi (Georgia) to Ceyhan in Turkey over a distance of 1760 km. If you are attracted to Bobby or JR Ewing kinda guys, Baku may just be your city! Oh and the title of this paragraph refers to Turkish 1980 entry, that was about oil.
"3" | "EUROvision?"
Until Azerbaijan joined the Eurovision Song contest, only four years ago, I did not know where it was. Nothing more than somewhere in the former Soviet Union. After winning the contest I now know where it is, north of Iran, East of Armenia, South of Georgia and West of the Caspian Sea. People wonder if this country in fact is situated in Europe or in Asia, although this location question is not relevant at all when it comes to taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest. Israel that clearly is not a part of Europe won the contest three times and two other countries that are at least partly in Asia managed to achieve the same once: Russia and Turkey. In 1980 even Africa was represented in the contest, when Morocco took part for the first and last time. But, well, what do scientists say about the continent Azerbaijan is situated in?
The modern definition of Europe (e.g. National Geographic Society) has the Europe-Asia boundary follow the watershed of the Ural Mountains to the source of the Ural River, then follows that river to the Caspian Sea. The border then follows the Greater Caucasus watershed from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. According to this definition, a part of Azerbaijan is situated in Europe and a part isn't. Baku is in the Asian part of the country, so after Jerusalem (twice), Baku is the second Asian city to host the Eurovision Song Contest.
"4" | "Let's get happy and let's be gay"
What would a Eurovision song contest be without gays? Azerbaijan is one of two countries in the world with a shiite Muslim majority. The other one being Iran. Shiites are known to be more conservative than Sunnis, which are the Muslim majority in the world. 70 Years of Soviet rule have made the country and especially the city of Baku very secular, but conservative however. However decriminalized being gay doesn't seem to be easy in Baku, it is socially not accepted. Apart from some cruising areas in parks and at a bath house far outside the city centre, internet and one bar attracting a mixed crowd, called 1033 Club, there is not much to do for gay men in this city.
"5" | "Stad i Ljus"
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is the easternmost city to ever organize the Eurovision Song Contest. The Southernmost city to have ever hosted the contest was Jerusalem (1979 and 1999). Going North we never got further up then in Bergen (1986) and never further west then Millstreet (1993). Baku has about 2 million inhabitants, being the biggest city in the Caucasus. The Inner City of Baku along with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
"6" | "Die Zeiger Der Uhr"
In 1966 Margot Eskens sang about a clock's indicators, when she represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest. For as long as most of us can remember the Eurovision Song Contest starts at 21:00 CET. With Azerbaijan being three hours ahead of the central European time zone, and even one hour later than Moscow where the contest was held in 2009, the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will start at midnight local time. Technically speaking the contest will be held on Sunday rather than Saturday. That has only happened twice before, in 1957 in Frankfurt am Main and in 1962 in Luxembourg.
"7" | "The war is not over"
The war is not over was the 2005 Latvian Eurovision entry sung by Walters & Kazha. It is not, but could be about Azerbaijan and it's neighboring country Armenia. Between 1988 and 1994 The Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict between the ethnic Armenians in the Azerbaijani area Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Peace between the two countries never really returned as Nagorno-Karabakh is still held by Armenia, de facto being a independent country only recognized by Armenia. In Eurovision Armenia and Azerbaijan have never been friends either, it is still to be seen if Armenia will attend the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Azerbaijan has stated that it's neighbor is welcome to attend the contest, but was of course forced to do so, because an organizing country can not exclude any other EBU-members from taking part in the contest. This is to be continued for sure.
"8" | "Power to all our friends"
With the same family ruling the country since the end of the 1960's (yes even in the communist era), with people still being arrested when demonstrating for human rights, and with a recent ban on several newspapers, Azerbaijan did not make it to the top 100 of democratic nations. This is a very sad fact.
"9" | "Feel the Passion"
Azerbaijan presents itself as the Land of Fire, and is working hard on becoming the tourist destination again, it was before the war with Armenia in the 1980's. It has a lot to offer to it's visitors: Five national parks, ancient culture, a rich history and some beautiful cities. The Lonely Planet guide has the following destinations in mind as top picks in the country: Şəki (a historic mountain capital with an 18th-century khan's palace and a brilliant hotel in an old caravanserai); Baku (Century-old mansions, 21st-century towers and a walled medieval city face off in this vibrant boomtown); Qobustan (Home to deeply strange mud volcanoes and a reserve of Stone- and Bronze-Age petroglyphs); Lahic (A delightful mountain village with copper artisans, cobbled streets and welcoming homestays); Xinaliq & Laza (Two very different yet archetypal high Caucasus villages in a truly breathtaking, peak-ringed setting); Janapar Trail (Well-marked hiking route across Nagorno-Karabakh that links old monasteries, caves and quaint villages). Buying a Lonely Planet guide or any other independent guidebook will surely give you more ideas where to go to.
"10" | "Wir geben 'ne Party"
Since the 1990's Baku has changed a lot, getting rid of the communist backwater status it has become quite a western looking city. The cash injection from energy projects, combined with the presence of thousands of international oil workers and wealthy consultants, has turned Baku into a party oasis within the fairly traditional Muslim country. You’ll find the best bars, clubs and restaurants around Fountain Square.
"11" | "Running Scared"
The title of Running Scared, the 2011 winning Eurovision song, perfectly fits the way last year's Azeri artist Safura was moving around the stage in Oslo, trying very hard to get the first Azerbaijani Eurovision victory on her curriculum. She didn't manage to however. One year later Ell and Nikki did the trick though. Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal, as they are actually called, won the contest on 14 May 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The two of them had managed to reach the finals of the Azerbaijani selection for the Eurovision as solo artists, together with three other artist. Only one of them was intended to get the ticket to Germany, but in the end it was decided they were going to go as a duo. Later on the winning song was penned for them by Swedish Sandra Bjurman and Stefan Örn. The rest is history.
"12" | "60,000"
60,000 Eurovision tourists are expected to arrive to Azerbaijan for next years Eurovision Song Contest. At least that are the expectations of Azerbaijan’s minister of culture and tourism, Abulfas Garayev. We think that might be a bit exagerated. They are working hard on building hotels to accomodate us however, and that is a good thing. In the same press statement the minister thinks it is necessary to add that Armenians still are constantly destructing his country. So far for a warm welcome for an Armenian delegation next year.
Source: Wikipedia, News.az, 12points.tv