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Something to declare

Celebrate Eurovision, and understand something of the world while you watch

“There are two ways to understand countries, their politics and culture. One is to follow their elections and economies. The other is to tune in, every May, to the Eurovision Song Contest. In a few hours, you can see what every country in the continent – and a few outside it – think of each other. Scores are settled, hatchets buried, insults hurled and alliances made. Yes, it’s about the music – but about so much more. Each country puts on a face it wants the rest of the world to see. For the last few years, we have seen that Britain doesn’t care much what the rest of Europe thinks of it: the UK entries are dire, lacking in musicality or choreography. And the ex-Soviet states, thrilled to be part of the comity of European nations, sing their heart out. This is their chance to be noticed, for something other than corruption. When Dana International won for Israel in 1998, it showed an avant-garde side to a country known for military turmoil.

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