Why North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Russia aren’t competing at Eurovision this year

This week, Liverpool plays host to thousands of international guests as the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest gets underway.

Despite Ukraine’s win at last year’s competition, the UK city will put on the show on their behalf as the continued war with Russia makes it impossible to stage there.

The events at the Liverpool Arena will welcome 37 nations this year, as opposed to 40 in 2022.

Countries that will not make an appearance include North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, as well as Russia for a second year running.

Russia was banned from competing in 2022 following its invasion of Ukraine. The banning decision was upheld by the European Broadcasting Union for 2023.

The country’s absence has had a knock-on effect on the participation of other nations.

Each national broadcaster is required to pay a fee to take part in Eurovision, the amount of which depends on the size of the country.

As a large country, Russia was a major financial contributor to the contest. Without it, other countries have been asked to pay more to make up the funds.

Eurovision National Lottery Event (Getty Images for The National Lottery)
Eurovision National Lottery Event (Getty Images for The National Lottery)

As a result, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro pulled out of the competition.

An additional factor in some countries’ choice to bow out of this year’s proceedings is the energy crisis and the resulting cost of living crisis in the UK, making staying in the host country an unattractive prospect.

“Such a decision is in the best interest of the citizens, taking into account the increased costs due to the energy crisis… as well as the increased registration fee for participation,” reads a statement from Macedonian Radio Television (MRT).

“This decision will enable the saving of funds that should be set aside for the Macedonian delegation’s stay in Liverpool.”

In a statement, Montenegro’s public service broadcaster RTCG cited plans to use the money they would have spent on Eurovision for their national projects.

RTCG said: “In addition to the significant costs of registration fees, as well as the cost of staying in Great Britain, we also faced a lack of interest from sponsors, so we decided to direct existing resources to the financing of current and planned national projects.”

Neither Montenegro, Bulgaria nor North Macedonia qualified for the live finals in the 2022 competition.

This year, Mae Muller will represent the UK. Find out all you need to know about her here.