Over 100 journalists attend Eurovision press conference in Baku26 January 2012 at 18:23 CET
Ictimai TV presented more details on the theme art and slogan for this year's contest, Light your fire! They also launched a brand new Azeri website dedicated to the Eurovision Song Contest.
"The Eurovision Song Contest is almost impossible to organise in one year. Not many people know the effort it actually takes," Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the EBU, told the media. However, he assured that "all the deadlines have met so far by Ictimai TV".
Jørgen Franck, TV Director at the EBU, expressed its appreciation for the hard work of Ictimai TV. The public broadcaster of Azerbaijan, only founded in 2006 and participating in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, is doing an "excellent job", according to Franck.
"We are seriously preparing for the shows in May. And we have great partners on board for that," Adil Kerimli, Executive Producer of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ictimai TV, stated. Even though a large part of the television shows are being produced by the Germany-based company Brainpool, Kerimli assured that "a strong flavour of Azerbaijan will be added."
At the press conference, journalists asked whether the approved venue for the Eurovision Song Contest, the Baku Crystal Hall, was especially built for holding the competition, and voiced concerns over the demolition of apartments, allegedly for the purpose of building the brand new venue.
"The construction of the Crystal Hall was planned before we even won the Eurovision Song Contest. We had three alternatives for holding the event and only yesterday, this venue was approved by the Reference Group," Executive Producer Adil Kerimli of Ictimai TV explained. "This venue was not especially constructed for the song contest, but commissioned by the City of Baku for a variety of purposes," he underlined.
EBU Event Supervisor Sietse Bakker added that the demolitions referred to are apparently related to the construction of a road, and are "not related to the construction of the Baku Crystal Hall". While the construction of the Baku Crystal Hall is nearing its completion, the building referred to is still standing several hundreds of metres away from the construction site.
The conference was also attended by several human rights activists, who referred to Azerbaijan's "poor record on human rights and media freedom", asking EBU officials to elaborate on the topic.
"We first of all believe the Eurovision Song Contest is a positive event that brings people together from a lot of different countries," said Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor on behalf of the EBU. Sietse Bakker, EBU Event Supervisor, added: "The EBU cares deeply about media freedom. In May, some 1,600 journalists will travel to Baku and we received guarantees from the Prime Minister that they can do their work freely."
During the press conference, organisers also explained the scope of the press facilities that will be made available to the accredited press. Finally, Executive Producer Adil Kerimli invited all media representatives to "come back to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest offices at the Baku Business Centre, to receive more information about the preparations and to answer any questions about the project."
The next official meetings in Baku will be held in March, when all the Heads of Delegations gather in the host city and will officially hand over their entries for this year's edition of Europe's favourite TV show.