Turkey participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 1975, represented by Semiha Yankı performing "Seninle Bir Dakika", but did not achieve any considerable success until the late 1990s. They withdrew from the 1979 contest in Jerusalem, a major disappointment for the selected performers Maria Rita Epik & 21 Peron, who would have performed the song "Seviyorum".
Since the introduction of the free language rule as well as televoting (in 1999 and 1997, respectively), Turkish entries have enjoyed much more success than in previous years. In 1997, Turkey finished 3rd with the song "Dinle" by Şebnem Paker. In 2003, Turkey won for the first time with "Everyway That I Can" by Sertab Erener, narrowly beating Belgium by two points. In 2004, the home entry in Istanbul, "For Real" by Athena, placed 4th. In 2007, "Shake It Up Şekerim" by Kenan Doğulu finished 4th as well. In 2008, the band Mor ve Ötesi ended 7th in the final. In 2009, Hadise achieved another impressive result for Turkey, obtaining a 4th position. In 2010, the nu metal band maNga obtained the second best placing ever for their homeland, winning the second semifinal and placing 2nd in the final. In 2011 Turkey was represented by pop-rock band, Yüksek Sadakat. In that year it was the first time that they did not qualify for the final. After a one year break, in 2012, Turkey made it to the final again and reached 7th position with Can Bonomo. Turkey announced on 14 December 2012 that they would not attend the 2013 competition in Malmö citing dissatisfaction with the rules of the competition. In September 2013, Turkey's state broadcaster stated a return is unlikely for the 2014 competition, citing the same reasons. The non-participation at ESC 2014 was confirmed on 7 November 2013.
On 14 February 2014, it was reported that Turkey would return to the contest in 2015.
NOTE: If a country had won the previous year, they did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. In addition, back in 2004-2007, the top ten countries who were not members of the big four did not have to compete in the semi finals the following year. If, for example, Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the countries who placed 11th and 12th were advanced to the following year's grand final along with the rest of the top ten countries.
Prior to 2012 every contest Turkey had taken part in had always been commentated on by Turkish television presenter Bülend Özveren, with the exception of 1982–1985, 1990–1991, 1998–2001 and 2007. In addition Özveren also co-commentated the contest in 1979, 2004 2011 and 2012. Out of the 38 years Turkey have broadcast the event Özveren has commentated on 29 of them making him 9 years short of being the Contest's longest commentator.