Armenia will be sanctioned by the managing committee of the Eurovision Song Contest in June and could face a financial penalty and retrospective points deduction. The waving of the Nagorno-Karabakh regional flag caused shock and anger in Azerbaijan and threatened the peaceful atmosphere of delegations, press and fans attending the Contest, the EBU says in a statement.
The EBU's Statement on Armenia reads as follows: "The EBU and the [Eurovision Song Contest] Reference Group, the governing body of the Eurovision Song Contest, strongly condemn the brandishing of the Nagorno-Karabakh flag in the Green Room during the live transmission of the first Semi Final on 10 May and considers the flag's appearance in the transmission harmful to the Eurovision Song Contest brand.
The Reference Group has decided to sanction Armenian broadcaster, AMPTV, in accordance with the Rules. The nature of the sanction will be determined, at the latest, by the next Reference Group meeting in June.
We are acutely aware of the tense situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the on-going tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We consider the appearance of a flag of a highly disputed territory in the live transmission a serious breach of Rule 1.2.2h of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest stating that "no messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows".
Furthermore, the EBU has imposed a zero-tolerance policy towards the Armenian delegation with regards to breaching the Rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, in particular in relation to the aforementioned incident.
The Reference Group wishes to point out that any further breach of the Rules of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest could lead to disqualification from this year's event or any successive editions."
To note, Iveta Mukuchyan, Armenia's participant at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, has reached the finals, which will be held in Stockholm. Mukuchyan performed the LoveWave song. Right after the results were announced, Mukuchyan raised the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was initially included in the list of the banned flags at Eurovision. Later, however, the European Broadcasting Union decreed removing the ban from a number of flags. This year the contest is being held under the slogan "Come Together". The second semifinals will be held on May 12. The finals will take place on May 14. The finalists are Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta.
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