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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 17:28 GMT
Serbia-Montenegro pulls pop entry
By Sebastian Usher
BBC World Media correspondent

No Name
No Name's chance of heading for Athens has hit a deadlock
It now looks very likely that Serbia and Montenegro will not have anyone representing it at this year's Eurovision Song Contest after it failed to resolve a row over who won its competition to find a song.

The dispute broke out at the end of the live, televised show to choose a Eurovision song on Saturday, 11 March.

Montenegrin boy band No Name had just won the vote.

But when they came out to perform their winning song, the mainly Serb audience in the Sava Hall in Belgrade greeted them with boos and catcalls.

In the face of their hostility, the group left the stage. After a short, confused lull, the Serbian runners-up - a group called Flamingos - appeared to cheers from the crowd to perform their song.

In the aftermath of the show, the members of No Name had to be escorted out of the concert hall by security officers.

Tactics

There then ensued a showdown between Serbia and Montenegro over who had actually won the contest.

The Serbs claimed that the Montenegrin judges in the jury - split half and half between the two parts of the federation - had broken the rules of the competition by voting tactically for their own group, No Name, which also represented Serbia and Montenegro at last year's Eurovision Song Contest.

The Montenegrin judges denied cheating, saying they had simply voted for the best song. The row all but eclipsed the death of Slobodan Milosevic in Montenegro.

The media there portrayed it as a huge scandal. Newspapers said it proved that the loose union between Serbia and Montenegro has not only failed to work politically or economically, but cannot even function musically.

Montenegro is due to hold a referendum on whether it wants full independence from Serbia on 21 May, the day after the Eurovision Song Contest is held in Athens.

To try to end the row, the heads of Serbian and Montenegrin TV met on Tuesday to decide on who was going to represent them. Their efforts failed.

The director of Serbian TV, Aleksandr Tijanic, said he had suggested re-running the competition - this time deciding it solely by a public vote. He said the Montenegrin side rejected the idea.

Loose union

The head of Montenegrin TV, Velibor Covic, blamed the Serbs for being inflexible. He said that even though no irregularities had taken place in the Montenegrin vote, the Serbs had still refused to allow No Name to go to Athens.

The result was deadlock. It now seems all but certain that Serbia and Montenegro will not be represented at the Eurovision Song Contest.

For some, that may not seem such a hardship.

But commentators and officials in both Serbia and Montenegro have taken it very seriously indeed, saying that the row has exposed the unworkability of the loose union between the two states - the last remaining vestige of what was once Yugoslavia.

An article in the Serbian newspaper, Danas - which has a liberal slant - compared the incident to a football game in 1990 between Serbs and Croats that ended in a riot - seen in retrospect as a prelude to the Yugoslav war.


SEE ALSO:
Euro-unity and divisions in Kiev
22 May 05 |  Entertainment
Eurovision win for Greek singer
21 May 05 |  Entertainment
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
12 Mar 06 |  Country profiles


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