Boris Johnson says Ukraine ‘can and should’ host Eurovision contest in 2023

‘They won and they deserve to have it,’ prime minister says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 18 June 2022 14:13 BST
Boris Johnson says Eurovision should be held in Ukraine

Boris Johnson has insisted Ukraine should be given the opportunity to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023, despite the country’s ongoing conflict with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Returning from a surprise trip to Kyiv, the prime minister said the Ukrainians won the 2022 contest “fair and square”, and suggested that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) should reconsider its proposal that next year’s contest be hosted elsewhere.

In statement on Friday, the EBU revealed it had started “discussions” with the BBC about hosting the annual contest in the UK after concluding that Ukraine would not be able to fulfil “security and operational guarantees”.

Speaking at RAF Brize Norton on Saturday, Mr Johnson said he believed it should be possible for the music contest to go ahead in Ukraine despite intense fighting in the country’s eastern regions.

“I have just been to Kyiv. I won’t say it is completely jiving and buzzing and popping, but it is far, far more lively. People are much more confident,” the prime minister told reporters.

“People are out in the streets, eating in cafes and restaurants, in a way that they weren’t a even few weeks ago.”

He added: “The Ukrainians won the Eurovision Song Contest. I know we had a fantastic entry, I know we came second, and I’d love it to be in this country. But the fact is that they won, and they deserve to have it.

“I believe that they can have it, and I believe that they should have it. I believe that Kyiv, or any other safe Ukrainian city, would be a fantastic place to have it.

“I hope the European Broadcasting Union will recognise that. It’s a year away; it’s going to be fine by the time the Eurovision Song Contest comes round.”

The Ukrainian entry by Kalush Orchestra won the competition in Turin, Italy this year, and it is traditional that the winning country hosts the event the following year.

However, the EBU has stated that following a “full assessment and feasibility study” it has concluded that the “security and operational guarantees” required to host the event cannot be fulfilled by Ukraine’s public broadcaster, UA:PBC.

Mr Johnson also told reporters on Saturday that he was concerned that Ukraine “fatigue” was starting to set in around the world, with Russia’s invasion now in its fifth month.

“We’ve got to understand Ukrainians are suffering terribly in the east of their country,” the prime minister said.

“The Russians are grinding forward inch by inch, and it’s vital for us to show what we know to be true, which is that Ukraine can and will win.”

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