• Germany edition
 
Germany caught in Eurovision crossfire
Photo: DPA

Germany caught in Eurovision crossfire

Published: 12 Apr 2012 16:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Apr 2012 16:11 GMT+02:00

"There's a real smear campaign against Germany going on," Azerbaijani human right activist Rasul Jafarov told Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper on Thursday.

The paper said a recent news piece shown on Azerbaijani state television channel AZTV showed Frankfurt as a city of sin in revenge for German criticism of the country's human rights record.

The voiceover describes how tramps shelter in the shadow of banks, ever-growing crowds of junkies wander the streets and women are forced to work in sex shops - while pictures were shown of the seedy district around the city’s train station and the "Occupy" protest camp outside the European Central Bank.

Relations have cooled between the two countries after criticism began appearing in German newspapers two months ago, calling on musicians and viewers to boycott the event in Baku.

Last year's hosts Germany have played an important role in preparations for the show, which will be watched by between 115 million and 120 million people worldwide.

"Brainpool" comedian Stefan Raab’s Cologne-based firm will produce the TV show, and German, Swiss and Austrian construction firms have helped build the new "Crystal Hall" venue in record time.

A scandal broke when Human Rights Watch claimed up to 20,000 people were forced out of their homes when they were demolished to make way for the venue.

And Amnesty International recently ramped up the pressure on Azerbaijan, demanding the release of all non-violent political prisoners in a social media campaign.

In response Azerbaijani state media has launched a propaganda war against its critics – including the German government's human rights representative Markus Löning, who has repeatedly criticized Azerbaijan's poor record on press freedom.

While accompanying German foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on a recent visit to the country, Löning was denounced by the media as a drunkard who had had sex with a local civil rights activist, the Frankfurter Rundschau noted.

Azerbaijan - which always ranks poorly on world press freedom, corruption and democracy indices - is hoping Eurovision will boost its image abroad, pulling out all the stops to promote itself.

Mehriban Aliyeva, wife of authoritarian leader Ilcham Aliyev has even been made head of the event organising committee.

"The Azerbaijani Government has spent millions of euros on the Song Contest and wants the event to be a success," Amnesty International's expert on Azerbaijan Marie von Möllendorff told the paper.

The European Broadcasting Union is trying to play down the political overtones of this year's Song Contest.

"We stand for change for the better and for fundamental democratic rights," Jørgen Franck, Director of the TV at the EBU told the paper.

"That's what we're fighting for in Europe. But we don't take an active role in that process; we leave that to others," he said.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:55 April 12, 2012 by vonSchwerin
You mean Frankfurt is NOT a seedy city rife with homelessness, drug-use and prostitution? Oh wait, I've never been outside the Bahnhofsviertel.
09:08 April 13, 2012 by AlexR
Yeah, right. Frankfurt constantly reaches the Top 10 lists of the best world cities to live in. Baku is not even a candidate on those surveys.
01:27 April 14, 2012 by Prufrock2010
I wish Frankfurt were as seedy and depraved as that paragon of human rights and modernity Azerbaijan depicts it. Frankfurt is one of the most boring cities on the planet.

Azerbaijan, meanwhile, is the newest best friend of Israel, providing a staging area for Israel's impending war against Iran, including four air bases. I think that Azerbaijan has far deeper problems than a manufactured squabble with Germany to consider.
12:34 April 14, 2012 by Sayer
Might I refer the human rights trumpet-blowers to the other article on this site where an acquitted woman is being billed for her defense of wrongful charges. Germans in glass-houses should not throw stones.
Today's headlines
Lufthansa pilot strike spills into second day
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa pilot strike spills into second day

In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hessen. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

JobTalk Germany
When should interns demand to get paid?

When should interns demand to get paid?

After a woman was denied pay for working at a supermarket as an 'intern' for eight months with no wages, The Local looks at the warning signs for abusive internships. READ  

Single parents, common law families on rise
Photo: DPA

Single parents, common law families on rise

The German family structure is changing, with nearly a third of every family no longer living in the "classic model" and big differences in what family looks like in the former East and West, statistics agency Destatis announced on Monday. READ  

Four arrested in raids against Isis
Photo: DPA

Four arrested in raids against Isis

Police raided 15 homes across Germany over the weekend and arrested four suspected supporters of the Islamic State (Isis). They are alleged to have smuggled a teenager and thousands of winter military clothes to the terrorist group's frontlines. READ  

Munich Refugee Crisis
'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'
Hassan, pictured outside the Bayernkaserne with two of his children, arrived in Munich from Syria. Photo: Mariane Schroeder

'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'

Around 300 refugees are arriving in Munich each day, but accommodation centres are full. With authorities struggling for answers, The Local meets those at the sharp end of the crisis. READ  

Train Strike
Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return
Photo: DPA

Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return

UPDATE: Deutsche Bahn trains are chugging along again after a 50-hour train strike cost the service "tens of millions" and brought travel headaches across the country, leaving millions of passengers struggling for transportation over the weekend as well as at least one mass brawl in its tracks. READ  

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Photo: DPA

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt plans to limit his road toll for foreigners initially to motorways only, Spiegel reported on Sunday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
How to get hired at a Berlin startup
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,464
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd