Tusványos summer camp/free university/festival begins today

The event officially named the Tusványos Summer University kicks off today in Transylvania with zero-day concerts of Metropol Group, Magashegyi Underground and Quimby.

The summer camp – which began in 1990 based on an idea of then BBC journalist David Campanale -has since come to the respectable age of 30 and has grown as big as the venue itself would allow. In its first seven years it was held in the spa resort Bálványosfürdő and moved thereafter to the nearby spa of Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tușnad, the smallest town by population (1,617) in Romania. Hence the name Tusványos, a combination of the names of the two settlements (actually, Bálványosfürdő has no permanent population), it is administratively part of the village of Torja/Turia).

While it now includes a plethora of concerts and other recreational activities, it was conceived a discussion venue and testing ground of political ideas, and has essentially maintained that focus. Current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been a regular since the beginning and his speeches – traditionally held on Saturday – are the centre of attention.

Over the years, the festival has also hosted such Romanian politicians as then foreign minister Adrian Severin and Presidents Traian Băsescu and Emil Constantinescu. Orbán’s speeches often set the tone for the next year in Hungarian politics and some controversial statements have also been made there.

Băsescu, for example, famously said when there in 2009 that the Romanian constitution does not allow for territorial autonomy of ethnic minorities – one of the pivotal goals of the Hungarians there.

Also dubbed the “Szekler Woodstock”, it is always the centre of Hungarian and Romanian media attention during the summer doldrums.

Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Romanian President Traian Basescu at the 2010 Tusványos free university (Wikipedia, Szabi237)

Author: Dénes Albert