Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

President of Hungary Quits in Plagiarism Case

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

President of Hungary Quits in Plagiarism Case

Article excerpt

The resignation followed days of political turmoil since the university in Budapest that awarded Pal Schmitt his doctoral degree stripped it from him last week.

Hungary's president, Pal Schmitt, resigned Monday from his largely ceremonial post over allegations of plagiarism in his 1992 doctoral thesis, stanching a long-winding political scandal that had become an embarrassment for the conservative government.

The resignation followed days of political turmoil since the university in Budapest that awarded Mr. Schmitt his doctoral degree stripped it from him last week.

"Based on Hungary's Constitution, which I have signed, the president expresses national unity," Mr. Schmitt told a plenary session of the country's Parliament in Budapest. "In this situation when my personal issue divides my beloved nation rather than unites it, I feel it is my duty to end my service and resign my mandate as president."

His comments were followed by cheers and applause from the opposition, and Parliament promptly accepted the resignation in a 338-5 vote, with 6 abstentions.

The dispute over the doctoral thesis, an analysis of the program of the modern day Olympic games, started in late 2011, when HVG, a business weekly, reported that parts of the text were identical with a work on the same subject by Nikolay Gueorguiev, a Bulgarian sports researcher.

After a review, Semmelweis University in Budapest said that Mr. Schmitt's paper did not meet the professional and ethical criteria required for a doctoral thesis. It found about 180 pages contained extracts identical to a 1987 work by Mr. Gueorguiev, as well as tables and charts copied from the same source.

In addition the paper contained 16 pages of identical translation from a 1991 work by a German author, Klaus Heinemann, it said.

Mr. Schmitt, 69, has denied any wrongdoing and he continued to claim his innocence on Monday.

A former Olympic fencer, diplomat and member of the European Parliament, Mr. Schmitt was elected president in 2010 by the Hungarian Parliament, where a coalition backing the conservative prime minister, Viktor Orban, holds a two-thirds majority. …

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