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2011-05-15 09:05:25 Views : 3620 |

Azerbaijan Wins First Eurovision

Azerbaijan duo Ell and Nikki (centre) rejoice after winning the Eurovision Song Contest for their hit Running Scared.

Montreal Gasette - Link

BAKU - Thousands of people partied through the night in central Baku early Sunday after ex-Soviet Azerbaijan's first-ever Eurovision Song Contest win, ignoring heavy rain as they danced, chanted and waved flags.

Celebrations erupted after the result was announced at around 3:30 a.m., with horns resounding through the streets of the capital as cars full of cheering people rushed into the centre to express their emotions about Ell and Nikki's success.

"It's a great victory," student Alim Mamedov told AFP. "Azerbaijan only took part in Eurovision for the fourth time, and I don't know if there's another country that has managed to win it so quickly."

The winning song, Running Scared, could be heard blaring out from scores of car windows at a time of night when the city is normally quiet.

"Now Europe will really learn about Azerbaijan — it's a great advertisement for a country like this," accountant Sakina Akhmedova told AFP.

"I am sure that everyone will be happy when they come here (for the finals) next year," she said.

The celebrations were broadcast live on national television, and the Eurovision triumph will be seen as a matter of national pride in Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim but officially secular country of 9.1 million people by the Caspian Sea.

The energy-rich state is an important supplier of oil and gas to Europe, although its pop music has not until now been so widely appreciated.

During the spontaneous street party in Baku, there were also reminders of Azerbaijan's long-running and extremely bitter unresolved conflict with its ex-Soviet neighbour Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorny Karabakh.

"Karabakh was ours and will be ours!" some people chanted triumphantly.

The issue has remained highly emotional in the country since ethnic Armenian separatists backed by the Armenian government seized the mountainous region from Azerbaijan in a war in the early 1990s that left some 30,000 people dead.

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