There was more than an air of inevitability about Armenia’s decision not to compete in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan.
It was always a toss-up whether the Armenians would want to travel to a country they have fought with in recent times and with which they have fraught relations at the best of times.
Azerbaijani and Armenian forces fought a war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s and at least 25,000 people died.
A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but no permanent peace deal was reached.
After weeks of speculation about Armenian participation in Bake, matters were brought to a head in late February in a speech by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
“Our main enemies are Armenians of the world and the hypocritical and corrupt politicians under their control,” said a political leader obviously oblivious to the kind of scrutiny his country is under at the moment.
The remarks sparked a boycott campaign organised by some Armenian musicians.
And so it came to pass, although the “b” word isn’t being used.
“Armenia decided to refuse to participate in the 2012 edition of Eurovision in Baku,” said public broadcaster AMPTV’s director Gagik Buniatyan in a stark statement.
The ESC organisers, the European Broadcasting Union, calls it an ”unfortunate” decision.
“We are truly disappointed by the broadcaster’s decision to withdraw from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest,” said the ESC’s executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand.
In a statement on the EBU website Mr Sand said: “Despite the efforts of the EBU and the host broadcaster to ensure a smooth participation for the Armenian delegation in this year’s contest, circumstances beyond our control lead to this unfortunate decision.”
And the reaction from Baku ?
A BBC report suggests that there’s little regret among Azerbaijan’s political elite about Armenia’s decision.
“The Armenian refusal to take part in such a respected contest will cause even further damage to the already damaged image of Armenia,” said the secretary of Azerbaijan’s governing party, Ali Ahmedov.
Armenia first competed in Eurovision in 2006.
Its entry was “Without Your Love”.