More than one of the Chinese newcomers to the Eurovision Song contest must have asked themselves “what’s up in Europe?” when they watched the latest edition:
A tiny woman with Bambi eyes and Arafat beard interpreting an extraordinary song, colourfully dressed women doing laundry in the middle of the stage with suggestive cleavages, the myth of Jesus’ last supper being break-danced or an Asiatic appearance tickled by mixing South Korean with Chinese. Some better informed Asian spectators may have also wondered why the Danish finalists had everything but the ‘typical’ Nordic look and pointed out that most of the performers sang in English. Some might have even asked themselves which country was represented by the red and yellow stripped flags with a star, fluttering in the festive atmosphere, side by side with the other 37 European flags in the audience.
One thing is for sure, the so often ridiculed song contest worked out to be much more than the usual compilation of more or less well performed copies of platinum records and rather obtrusive scene arrangements.
On a continent where supra-national powers still hope to govern over others and where a country still forces their singer to include words in the national tongue in an English song to mark difference rather than union, most of the 170 million European spectators turned the Eurovision-stage into theirs, bearing witness to their democratic maturity. Culture builds bridges, and so a musical get-together became a claim to social progress and tolerance, personal freedom and mutual support. Austrian winner Conchita Wurst (Salchicha or Sausage) put it very clearly: "We are a unity. Together we are unbeatable."
Now we, the European citizens, have to develop our potential further and take our claims to a broader stage, to make sure they come true at all levels of European society, so that one day all its citizens can progress in mutual tolerance and freedom.