University says President Pal Schmitt plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation
He denies accusations and says he will not step down, but he accepts withdrawal of doctorate
The university stripped the president of his doctorate Thursday
Protesters in Hungary are calling for the resignation of President Pal Schmitt after a university he attended said that he plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation.
However, in an interview aired Friday on public access television station M1, Schmitt said he would not resign.
“I have a clean conscience. I have written my thesis with my best knowledge I had at the time, and I never intended to plagiarize. However, I will accept the decision of the (University) Senate that has withdrawn my doctorate. But this has got nothing to do with me being a president,” he said.
Schmitt, a former Olympic fencing champion, wrote his dissertation in 1992 for the University of Physical Education, which is now part of Semmelweis University in Budapest.
In January 2012, the Hungarian HVG weekly reported that a large part of Schmitt’s dissertation was copied.
A university investigation also found that large parts of it were plagiarized. A committee said this week that more than 200 pages of the 215-page document showed “partial similarity” to other works or were direct translations.
The university stripped the president of his doctorate Thursday.
“Since the former candidate’s doctoral dissertation is based on lengthy literal translations, it does not meet the professional and ethical criteria of the ‘dissertation prepared using scientific methods’ requirement for obtaining a university doctorate,” the university’s investigators said in a report.
In his first reaction to the scandal, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it was up to the president to decide what to do.
“Nobody except him can decide,” Orban said in a radio interview Friday.
In the meantime, the president’s official Facebook page has been taken off the social network site.
Schmitt was elected by the parliament for a five-year term in 2010.
Journalist Flora Hevesi contributed to this report from Sopron, Hungary.