It has only been twenty years since they made their debut as an independent country, but yet Bosnia-Herzegovina feels like an old friend indeed. Possibly because of the incredible transformation they went through in front of our very eyes.
They started out as a war-torn country - a small miracle in itself that they managed to take part during the civil war - that impressed people by their sheer presence and perhaps gained the occasional sympathy vote.
Fazla - Sva bol svijeta (Bosnia-Herzegovina 1993)
Then peace came. The country had a change of flag and constitution and set out to re-invent themselves. After a few confused years where ambitious national finals ended in tactical (political) voting and not particularly user-friendly winners, Bosnian television started selecting most of their entries internally. A very good move, indeed.
Deen - In The Disco (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2004)
Suddenly, Bosnia-Herzegovina turned into one of the bravest pupils of the entire class. A chrysalis-to-butterfly that set new artistic standards and often challenged the idea of what the perfect eurovision entry should look and sound like.
Many of their entries were more like short pieces of conceptual art rather than typical pop songs, often conveying some sort of message at some level. The often quite reserved grand public let themselves be amused and Bosnia never missed a final since the implementation of the semi finals.
Laka - Pokušaj (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2008)
Then suddenly, like a flash of lightning out of a clear blue sky, there were news from Sarajevo that Bosnia would not take part in Malmö. So, what are the reasons for this?
Lack of money was the official reason. The Bosnian delegations have been travelling light lately with very few people apart from the participants, but curiously enough the local broadcaster declined several offers from various parties willing to sponsor the participation.
Lack of enthusiasm could be another factor. Rumours have it that Bosnian tv had to struggle finding acts that were willing to do the ESC and that would at the same time match the high artistic standards they had set for themselves. The withdrawal could be a warning shot for the local artists - unless they contribute there will be no participation.
Then again, I can't shake the political suspicion I've felt at the back of my head. The Bosnian withdraval was announced at the same time as Turkish one and explained with equally vague reasons. Is Bosnia absent to back up the Turkish absence? And will the Bosnians be back even if Turkey stays out?
This is just a thought. I have no evidence in this case. I'm just thinking out loud. If anyone knows better, please enlighten me. Feel free to discuss this matter in a comment.
Regardless, I hope there will be a change of tune in Sarajevo soon. I think Bosnia-Herzegovina should be winning and hosting instead of withdrawing. And that's my final word.
Hari Mata Hari - Lejla (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2006)