Turkey brings back its shine to Eurovision song contest
ISTANBUL - In case anyone feared the Eurovision song contest had lost a little of its sequined lustre in the last years, then despair no more -- Turkey is coming back.
Absent from the glitzy competition for the last three years, Turkey will rejoin the competition in its next-but-one edition in 2016, the country's public broadcaster said Friday.
State-run Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) withdrew from Eurovision after the 2012 contest, citing low ratings and dissatisfaction with the voting rules.
But TRT chief Senol Goka said the broadcaster would return to the competition in 2016 as most of Turkey's concerns, including over "a lack of moral standards", have been addressed.
"There were problems with not just the voting system, but also with moral standards. We had voiced criticism at the absence of these things," he was quoted as saying by Milliyet newspaper.
"But there are significant improvements on these issues... Our demands will be met and we will return," he said.
Turkey had harshly criticised the competition's current Big-5 ruling, which states that Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are guaranteed a place in the final, no matter how they performed the year before.
In 2013 it launched its own type of Eurovision, dubbed "Turkvision," which follows the same guidelines as the annual European song contest.
But many observers said that Turkey -- ruled by an Islamic-rooted government for over a decade -- had dropped the event in protest of what it sees as a moral decline in the competition.
The decision to withdraw from the Eurovision came just after Sweden, the host of the 2013 competition, showed two male Swedish folk dancers kissing during rehearsals.
EU Minister Volkan Bozkir caused a furore last year when he lauded his country's withdrawal from the competition after seeing Austria's bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst win the 2014 contest.
"Each time I look at the Austrian who won the Eurovision Song Contest, I say 'Thankfully, we're not participating in this contest anymore'," he said.
One of Turkey's top pop divas, Sertab Erener, came first in the contest in 2003, after decades of disappointment for the Muslim nation.
Turkey's last entry was from singer Can Bonomo who placed seventh in 2012 with the song "Love Me Back".