Summer is the time when most people take their holidays in Europe. It's also the time when public broadcasters decide whether to enter the Eurovision Song Contest the following year. This often leads to speculation among fans regarding which countries are in or out. Today we look back at the countries that have previously entered the Eurovision Song Contest. They may be gone (for now) but they are not forgotten!
42 countries participated in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The highest number of participants ever was reached twice, in 2008 and 2011 when 43 countries took part. However a total of 52 countries have participated in the competition over the years. For various reasons, some countries left the Eurovision Song Contest. Let's look at some of those countries, including those that are eligible to return to Eurovision in 2018.
Two countries that have previously entered, Yugoslavia and the state union between Serbia and Montenegro, no longer exist. Yugoslavia debuted at the 1961 Eurovision Song Contest in Cannes. They entered 27 times and reached their best placings in the 1980s, finishing fourth with Daniel in 1983 and the hit song Dzuli and with Ja Sam Za Ples by Novi Fosili in 1987. Yugoslavia won the contest once, in 1989, with the Croatian band Riva and the song Rock Me.
Yugoslavia also hosted the contest in Zagreb the year after, but in 1991 the federation was collapsing, followed by the start of the Yugoslav Wars and the final breakup of the federation which happened only days before the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest took place. The last entry from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was Ljubim Te Pesmama, performed by Extra Nena in Malmö where it placed 13th.
In 2004 Yugoslavia made its “come-back” in another form of sorts. Before Serbia and Montenegro split up they participated twice at the Eurovision Song Contest as a union state with impressive results. In Istanbul in 2004 Željko Joksimović, who later returned for Serbia in 2012, came second with the song Lane Moje.
The year after, in 2005, No Name came seventh with Zauvijek Moja. In the national final of 2006 No Name won the right to represent Serbia and Montenegro again. However after controversy during the voting, where the broadcasters couldn’t reach an agreement as to what entry they should send to Athens, they withdrew from participating in the competition. Serbia and Montenegro did have the opportunity to vote during the final though. Eventually, the two states split up weeks later, at the beginning of June 2006.
“How does the tiny Duchy of Luxembourg do so well in the Eurovision Song Contest?” That’s not our question but how the presenter of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, Michelle Rocca, introduced singer Lara Fabian, who represented Luxembourg in Dublin that year. Up to 1983 the small landlocked nation managed to win on five different occasions, holding the record for most victories in the contest until Ireland caught up in the 90s and Sweden in 2015. They also sent big stars to the contest like Baccara in 1978 and Nana Mouskouri in 1963:
Relying a lot on French talent, they first won in 1961 with Jean-Claude Pascal and the song Nous Les Amoureux. In 1965 France Gall scored their second victory with Serge Gainsbourg's Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son. The country won again with Greek-born Vicky Leandros in Edinburgh in 1972 singing Après Toi and in 1973 with Anne-Marie David and the song Tu Te Reconnaîtras. Luxembourg's fifth and last victory happened in 1983 with Corinne Hermes and Si La Vie Est Cadeau.
Vicky had already represented Luxembourg in 1967 when she finished fourth with L'amour Est Bleu which turned into a big international hit:
The Grand Duchy took part in the contest for 10 more years after their last win, their farewell entry being 1993’s Donne-Moi Une Chance performed in Millstreet by Modern Times. Several times since then, the Eurovision Fan club of Luxembourg has attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince the broadcaster RTL to come back to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Micro-state with a big win
Monaco made its Eurovision Song Contest debut in 1959 and has participated 24 times since then. Although they placed last in their first attempt, they came third on two ocassions and second once. The country also won the competition, making Monaco the only micro-state to have ever won Eurovision until this day. It was in 1971 in Dublin that Séverine took the trophy for Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue. Monaco declined to host the contest the following year, that task went to Edinburgh in Scotland where the BBC hosted the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest.
Monaco scored a string of good results in the 1970s, but finished in the bottom five in 1979 and stopped taking part for 25 years. After that long absence, the principality resumed their participation in 2004 but failed to qualify for the Grand Final on three consecutive occasions, so Monaco decided to withdraw and hasn’t participated since 2006.
Another tiny state, Andorra, joined the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004. They participated six times and hold the record of being the only country that never appeared in a Eurovision Grand Final.
Once In A Lifetime
Morocco is the only country in the Eurovision Song Contest to have entered only once. The north African country’s sole entry in the competition was performed in Arabic by Samira Bensaïd, who went on to have a long and successful career following her appearance in the competition despite finishing 18th (second last) with Bitakat Hob.
Where Are You Now?
Turkey participated at the Eurovision Song Contest 34 times since 1975. In their early years they struggled to get good results but in the new millennium their fortunes changed. Since 2000, they reached the top 10 on eight occasions and even won the contest once, in 2003 with Sertab Erener’s Every Way That I Can. After the 2012 contest in Baku we haven’t seen them in Eurovision, despite rumours of their return.
Whilst Slovakia has never qualified for the Grand Final since the introduction of the semi-finals, they did appear in the Grand Final in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Their best placing was 18th. Hoever failing to qualify does not automatically mean your song will be forgotten. Kristina, who represented Slovakia in 2010, still has one of the most watched videos on the Eurovision YouTube Channel every month, Horehronie. Like Turkey, Slovakia participated for the last time in 2012, in Baku, with the song Don’t Close Your Eyes.
In & Out
Since their debut as an independent country in 1993, Bosnia & Herzegovina participated almost every year until 2012, missing out on the 1998 and 2000 contests due to the relegation system in plave at that time. After the current Semi-Final system was introduced they didn’t miss a single Grand Final between 2004 and 2012. Their best result came in 2006, when Hari Mata Hari finished third with the song Lejla in Athens, their only top five ranking in the contest.
The balkan country came back after three years of absence in 2016 but, after failing to qualify for the Grand Final with Ljubav Je, they did not return in 2017, so Bosnia & Herzegovina is the last country to leave the contest.
Portugal withdrew from the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 only to return and win in 2017. The EBU remains in dialogue with its members regarding participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, and as many of the countries listed here show, it's never too late to return!