Hungarian President Schmitt resigns following plagiarism scandal

April 3rd, 2012 - 2:07 am ICT by BNO News  

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BNO NEWS) — Hungarian President Pál Schmitt on Monday told parliament he is resigning from office with immediate effect, just days after being stripped of his doctorate over a plagiarism scandal. National Assembly Speaker László Kövér will serve as acting president.

Schmitt, 69, won an overwhelming majority of 68.1 percent in the presidential election in June 2010. He was sworn in about a month later to a five-year term, but public allegations regarding plagiarism in his 1992 doctorate dissertation sparked increasing calls and protests for him to resign.

Speaking to the Hungarian Parliament on Monday, Schmitt stated that it is his duty “to end my service and resign my mandate as president,” explaining that his personal issues have divided the country rather than unite it.

The Hungarian weekly magazine Heti Világgazdaság (HVG) published a report in January, alleging that Schmitt’s dissertation in 1992 at the University of Physical Education - now part of Budapest’s Semmelweis University - was largely plagiarized.

Only a few weeks later, the University Senate announced that nearly the entire paper showed either partial similarities to other texts or even direct translations. As a result, the university stripped Schmitt of his 1992 doctorate on Thursday.

Monday’s sudden resignation comes just a few days after Schmitt promised he would not resign and instead write a new thesis to prove he can comply with academic requirements. On Monday, he also stated his willingness to go to court to prove that his intentions were not to plagiarize, arguing he wrote the paper with his best knowledge.

A former Olympic fencer, Schmitt wrote his dissertation on the 1992 Olympic Games.

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