Serbia-Montenegro pulls out of Eurovision

Serbia-Montenegro has withdrawn from the Eurovision Song Contest following a bitter row over the country's national entry, a statement from the state-run TV said on Monday. The decision came after Serbian jurors accused the Montenegrin panel earlier this month of tactical voting at a competition to decide the official song for the 2006 contest.

"It would be better for all of us not to have a representative at the contest in Athens," Aleksandar Tijanic, the director of the Serbian state-run TV or RTS, said in a statement. "Otherwise, we would have to accept manipulations, pressures and blackmails imposed by the music clans and political mentors," the statement said.

The vote earlier this month saw Montenegro's No Name chosen as the winner. Serbia, whose act Flamingo came second, called for the vote to be restaged. When Montenegrin representatives rejected a new contest and after several days of tough talks, the country withdrew. The European Broadcasting Union was officially informed of the decision Monday.

Serbia-Montenegro now faces a fine of up to 35,000 Swiss francs (US$27,000,  23,000 ) and a three-year ban from the contest. Instead of Serbia-Montenegro, neighboring Croatia will now take a position in the final and no longer needs to take part in a qualification contest.

The row over the Eurovision entry demonstrates the deteriorating relations between Serbia and its junior partner Montenegro, the only two republics that stayed together after the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Montenegro has scheduled the referendum on independence from Serbia on May 21, only a day after the Eurovision contest, reports the AP.


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