Armenia Picks Representative for Eurovision 2010, Turks React

Eva Rivas will represent Armenia in Oslo.

On Feb. 14, ARMTV, Armenia’s public television company, held the country’s national final to select the winner(s) that will represent Armenia at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, Norway from May 25-29. The event took place in the National Opera Theatre in Yerevan and was broadcast live. Nine contestants vied for the position. The winner was determined by a panel of jurists and SMS text voting. The Grant Thornton Amyot Audit Organization monitored the votes on behalf of Armenian public television and InterMob CJSC.

The performances ranged from ballads to rock, pop, and R&B songs. “Another Story,” a four-member rock band, performed first. Their song, “Ays Dzmer” (“This Winter”), was the only entirely Armenian-language song. The rest of the songs performed that evening were in English. Some, however, incorporated Armenian elements, such as a duduk player, Armenian background vocals, or traditional costumes.

Since 1999, Eurovision contest rules allow contestants to sing in any language. In the past, Eurovision has had language restrictions in place. From 1966-72 and 1978-98, contestants were required to perform their songs in their national languages. Now, many of the songs are performed partially or entirely in English to reach broader audiences. Some contestants have even opted to perform in entirely made-up languages. (In 2003, Belgium’s “Urban Trad” sang “Sanomi” in an entirely fictional language.)

In any case, Rivas, the 22-year old Russian-Armenian, claimed the winning spot with her song “Apricot Stone” (lyrics by Moscow-based Karen Kavaleryan, music by Armen Martirosyan). The performance started with a cloaked man, face hidden, playing the duduk, soon accompanied by a guitarist and a pianist (the composer himself). Rivas took the stage—wearing a white gown with a chiffon wrap floating about her, her wavy black hair reaching well below her waist—and began singing her already-controversial song:

“Many, many years ago
when I was a little child,
mama told me you should know
our world is cruel and wild,
but to make your way
through cold and heat
love is all that you need…”

According to Rivas and her producer, “Apricot Stone” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik9xBv-F2BQ) speaks of the need for world peace and love. It is also a song that symbolizes the Armenian Diaspora, to which Eva belongs. It is about yearning for her homeland.

Eva Rivas in the studio

Rivas enjoys the support of Andre, the first Armenian representative to Eurovision (2006), and Lys Assia, the first ever winner of the Eurovision Song Contest (1956). Contestants Emmy and Mihran duo had the support of Ricky Martin, the Puerto Rican pop singer, who wished them good luck in a YouTube clip.

Armenia debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 with Andre’s song “Without Your Love,” which came in 8th place. In 2007, Hayko represented Armenia with his song “Anytime You Need,” and came in 8th. In 2008, Sirusho’s “Qele, Qele” came in 4th. In 2009, Inga and Anush Arshakyans performed “Jan Jan,” and came in 10th.

Accusations of Foul Play at National Finals

Eva’s victory is contested by some who believe the results were rigged. Nadezhda Sargsyan, the mother of pop icon and contestant Emmy, has threatened to take the matter to court. Sargsyan claims that soon after the 15-minute SMS voting started, some names were blocked, and consequently some of the contestants, like her daughter Emmy, lost. Rivas received 5,000 SMS votes, while the Emmy and Mihran duo received 1,400.

During a press conference on Feb. 20, Nadezhda Sargsyan claimed that ARMTV’s chairman, Alexan Harutyunyan, had reassured her that Emmy and Mihran would “definitely” represent Armenia at Eurovision. Her lawyer, Vrej Giragosyan, questioned the legality of the results due to the blocked SMS votes. According to him, Eurovision rules do not give any guidance on how to deal with a situation in which the SMS voting system gets disrupted.

Turkish Composer Accuses ‘Apricot Stone’ of Being Political

Meanwhile, the Turkish composer Yagoub Mutlu, who was present at Armenia’s national finals, has accused “Apricot Stone” of having a clear political message. Mutlu, who assures the public that “I am not an enemy of Armenians,” has claimed that the song’s first seven lines (see above) refer to the Armenian Genocide He believes that the term “motherland” refers to Turkish territories, while the rest of the song is a clear message directed at Turkey. The story has appeared in numerous Turkish and Azerbaijani newspapers, such as the Anadolu Ajansi (Anatolian News Agency), the Azeri Press Agency, CNN Turk, and Radikal.

Eurovision bans songs that have a political message. Last year, Georgia’s representatives, Stephane and 3G, were instructed to change the lyrics of their song “We Don’t Wanna Put In,” which apparently took a jab at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Georgia refused to participate in the contest.

“Apricot Stone” was written by Karen Kavaleryan, an experienced Russian-Armenian lyricist familiar with the Eurovision Contest world and their rules. In 2002 and 2006, he co-wrote the lyrics for the Russian entries (which placed 10th and 2nd place, respectively), the Belarusian lyrics in 2007 (6th place), the Armenian lyrics in 2007 (8th place), the Georgian lyrics in 2008 (11th place), and the Ukranian lyrics in 2008 (2nd place).

Rivas’ public relations manager, Hayk Markosyan has told ArmeniaNow that “the song has nothing to do with the Armenian Genocide, and it does not have a political context. The song simply presents the Armenian culture, the Armenian traditions, the apricot, which is just an Armenian fruit and it is the symbol of Armenia, and the thoughts of a young (Armenian) woman who lived far from the homeland for years.”

Meanwhile, following the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, Azerbaijani authorities launched a campaign tracking and interrogating dozens of individuals who had voted for Armenia’s Inga and Anush Arshakyan sisters and their song “Jan Jan.” Forty-three individuals had reportedly voted for the song. (The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) found that the Azerbaijani broadcaster, Ictimai Televiziya, had distorted the TV signal when the Armenian contestants were up, blurring the telephone number.) According to the Azeri Press Agency (APA), EBU fined the TV station €2700 and gave them a warning. APA claims that Armenia also received a warning from EBU, since “Armenia’s Eurovision 2009 spot contained political points.”

Eva’s Background

Rivas was born on July 13, 1987 in Rostov-na-Donu, Russia, to an Armenian mother and an Armenian-Greek-Russian father. Her real name is Valeriya Reshetnikova-Tsaturyan. She left Rostov in 2006, and soon adopted her Greek great-grandmother’s name, Eva Rivas, as her stage name.

According to her website, from 1996 to 2004 she was a soloist in the Arevik ensemble in Rostov, through which she earned recognition, awards, and medals. In 2003, she graduated from Image Elite, a modeling studio. She has earned titles such as “Little Beauty of Rostov,” “Golden Voice of Rostov,” “Miss Pearl of Don,” and while in Yerevan, “Vice-miss of the Caucasus.” After leaving Arevik, Eva continued to enter contests, and in 2008, signed a contract with Armenian Production. She gained even more popularity when in 2009 she chose to sing Sayat Nova’s “Tamam Ashkharh” at the Tashir 2009 Music Festival. That same year, Eva released a music video for “Tamam Ashkharh,” which was directed by Bookhadir Yuldeshev and shot in Armenia, Afghanistan, Algeria, and Uzbekistan (watch video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXb2dteSFyk). She has also appeared in Armenian TV shows.

Nanore Barsoumian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly.

avatar

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk, and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in political science and English from the University of Massachusetts (Boston), where she is currently continuing her graduate studies. Email Nanore Barsoumian at writenanore@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter (@NanoreB).

14 Comments

  1. Hye,  Turks shall see in all, whether a poem, a song, even books,  that they perpetuated the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation – over one and one half millions terrorized, slaughtered, raped,
    kidnapped and bastinados… the cruel pains inflicted prior to deaths – which  truths a world knows.
    Surviviors forced to flee to the civilized nations of the world – to recover, to return… remembering.
    Our covenent with our Martyrs lives on through all of our generations – we shall never forget.
    The truths will come forth – whether in song, poems,  photos, suvivor’s books, and more.
    Our Martyrs will never let the Turk  forget their inhumanity to humans,  their bones unburied – still. 
    The Turk still pursues Armenians, knowing we can never forget, ever, the  planned slaughter of the civilized Armenians’ nations and stealing the Armenian culture – as Turks – as their own!
    Manooshag

  2. In The legacy of Jihad by Andrew G. Bostom on page 221 you can read the 1915 Ottoman Fatwa which was one of the last acts of the Caliphate in Istanbul. It was the ideological and religious justification for the Turks to prosecute the Armenian Genocide.
    The first paragraph of the fatwa says “The massacre of unbelievers [. . .] is now our duty” and that God commands to “Take then and kill them wherever you find them”. It is entirely based on the Koran, Hadith, and four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, as Imam’s are preaching jihad in Mosques throughout the Islamic world to this very day, and likewise is the basis of Al Qaeda’s messages to the Islamic faithful.
    Islam was the ideology behind the Armenian Genocide.

  3. Isn’t it funny that  allready now some turkish rightheous idiot allows himself to attend the armenian eurovision and then think that he has the right to critisize armenian affairs publically? Is this the slow decending against madness, as these strange new diplomatic agreements between Armenia and turkey are taking place, that we are seeing blossom? I mean how much paranoia and control do they think they can subject armenians to ? They should just keep their mouts shu! The armenians can vote for whatever they want to and that’s that!

  4. A day does not go by that I don’t hear and read that it is the misunderstanders of Islam that promote violent jihad. I have put a considerable effort into studying the Koran, Hadith, the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, the history and day to day actuality of dhimmitude, and what Muslims say to each other as opposed to what they say to infidels. Ten years ago I would have talked like N, but no more. At least talk to those that go undercover into Mosque’s in the US or watch translations of Imam’s preaching on Arabic TV. To the faithful Imam’s preach that Christians and Jews are apes and pigs that must be subdued or slain. To each other Muslims say ‘first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people’. They don’t say it to infidels; they know what we want to hear. If you know Islam you know it’s taqiyya, dissimulation, taught by the Koran and Islamic jurisprudence. This is an integral part of Islam taught everywhere in the Islamic world. People in the West don’t believe it’s in Islam because they don’t want to believe it. This, I think, is the basic problem in the West, that we can’t believe that a religion can preach that evil (to rape, torture, oppress, enslave, and kill) is good and commanded by God. Do you think that after the Muslim Turks killed most of my relatives in 1915 they repented in the local Mosque, or that the Imam reprimanded them? No, it’s quite the opposite.

  5. Arius, we should be able to distinguish between Muslims and the genocidal Turks, between religion and political agenda. Animosity exists among various fractions of the Muslim world. As more ancient and civilized nations, many Muslim Persians and Arabs, who contributed heavily into the human civilization, would abhor the Turks, considering them third-class people, uncivilized nomads. And should we forget that scores of Muslim Arabs were annihilated by fellow Muslim Turks during the centuries of the Ottoman Empire? Was it not Muslim Jemal Pasha hanging fellow Muslim Arabs in Beirut and Aleppo?
    Religious confrontation is the most abysmal, disastrous way of thinking and behavior that’s attributable to the gloomy, narrow-minded fanatics. There is no alternative to religious tolerance and co-existence. As much as we know what fatwa calls for and what Muslims may say to each other, we also know that Prophet Mohammad urged to respect the Jews and the Christians as ‘People of the Book.’ His Charter of Privileges to this effect with the drawing of his hand is preserved in the St. Catharine’s Monastery in Egypt. The Charter cconsists of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.
    Even in the Koran Jesus Christ is one of the Prophets of God. Jesus’ mother Mary is revered by the Muslims and a whole Surah in the Koran is dedicated to her.
    Besides, many Armenians were saved by Muslim Arabs, yes, some of them were converted to Islam, but at least their lives were saved. I spent several years in the Middles Eastern societies and I was treated by the Muslims with great respect and admiration for being an Armenian, because Christian Armenians were able to become loyal, hard-working, and productive citizens in many Muslim societies.
    I think N is right. It is important to distinguish Islam from those who interpret it in a way that suits their pressing political interests.

  6. Anahit, no matter what the facts, you want to make excuses for Islam and Muslims. Your comments show that you have a limited knowledge of the Koran and Mohammad. Read up on Abrogation. The sections of the Koran that you quote that seem to show Muslim respect for Christians and Jews is nullified by abrogation later in the Koran. This is not what I think, this is from the four schools of Islamic jusisprudence. It amazes me that so many in the West know almost nothing about Islam but profess it to be this or that, mostly based on wishful thinking. Unfortunately very many of my Armenian brothers and sisters are swimming too deep in dhimmitude to see Islam for what it is. You look, but do not see.

  7. In my oppinion as a true Armenian … this eurovision contest is about music not poletics … let turkish think what ever that suits them the main thing we know its a song intented just for the contest not to send out a message I think we have been seending messages about the Genocide other ways then music …. They  know the truth deep inside so let the guilt get to them!!

  8. I agree with Juliet. The song is just a song, nothing more or less. A beautiful one at that and sung by an equally beautiful young lady. People should grow up, stop trying to read into things intentions which aren’t really there and just accept things for what they are. Quite frankly, much of this nonsense that people carry on with is nothing more than prejudice fueled by misguided and misunderstood knowledge of history…social, cultural and political. In any case, history itself is subjective and depends entirely on the point of view of those that tell (or teach) it. History is usually written by the victors in any case, leaving the truth behind and covering up what really went on. This goes both ways, in any confrontation or interaction between peoples. It also allows those that do commit acts of inhumanity to hide behind obfuscation and denial. But it also doesn’t give the right to those who are persecuted to exact any retribution or twist what was reality to suit their ends, either. All that does is perpetuate a greater evil, for both parties. However, that doesn’t mean that acknowledgment and some compensation should not be forthcoming. We are not responsible for our ancestors mistakes and actions, but we can do something to make some recompense towards what they may have done and to make sure it never happens again. Remembering past injustices is important, but not to perpetuate the acts through stupidity and blind faith in dubious ideologies.  That the genocide happened should never be in dispute, the facts speak for themselves. It is only those wishing to hide behind veils of jingoistic nationalism, pseudo-patriotism and revisionist ideological claptrap that want to deny what occurred. It could also be a sense of horror that prevents people from facing the facts…a horror that how could any of my fellow human beings commit such acts, and for what twisted ideals, that makes them revile such actions. That they know, given the right set of circumstances, they themselves could be guilty of, or witness to, such acts and not do anything to stop them occurring.
    To anyone who projects such misguided thoughts upon a beautiful young woman whose talent is manifest in her voice, all I have to say is this…stop, and take a real good look at yourself. The only person I see, in this instance, who believes in the foolish thoughts you obviously want to paint everyone with, is yourself. Her own agenda, political or otherwise, is not the issue here. It is your beliefs, your thoughts and words. Take that time to really find out the facts and check your beliefs. You will find that what you believe and what is reality are two entirely different things. Then I’d suggest you keep your own counsel and give Eva (Valeriya) the credit where it’s due. For what is ultimately a beautiful song about a young woman remembering what her mother taught her about the world and how that gave her strength…her Apricot stone.
    As an aside…I love apricots!! :)
     

  9. i’m Filipino-American. this was the 2nd year that i followed Eurovision. last year, my favorite was Alexander Rybak and I still adore him.
    when i first heard about Apricot – it was beautiful. i knew it was a surefire winner. i was totally disappointed. nevertheless, it’s my number one on my list and Eva Rivas not only does she look like Angeline Jolie, she’s quite amazing with a very nice voice!
    i truly love the song, i won’t be suprised it is very popular in your part of the world now. i’m a fan of Eva!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*