, BUDAPEST, Jan 12 – Hungarian President Pal Schmitt denied on Thursday plagiarising his 1992 doctoral thesis after the country’s top economic weekly accused him of using reams of someone else’s work.
Schmitt’s work “was honoured with a summa cum laude, which speaks for itself,” said a statement from the president’s office, referring to the highest honour accorded to a thesis.
The president is a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
According to the HVG weekly’s website hvg.hu, the “majority” of the thesis was a “word-for-word translation” of a text written in French in the 1980s by Bulgarian sports expert and diplomat Nikolai Georgiev, who died in 2005.
The report showed passages from the original French text and Schmitt’s thesis, which appeared to be a perfect translation of Georgiev’s words.
According to hvg.hu, “using the French text of … Georgiev on 180 pages of the altogether 215 pages of Pal Schmitt’s doctoral thesis raises a suspicion of plagiarism”.
Schmitt, a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1983, knew Georgiev personally and they cooperated in the research of common subjects and used identical works as sources, the president’s office said.
“As a consequence, the office of the president firmly rejects the accusation of plagiarism,” it said.
The head of Hungary’s Accreditation Board — a body ensuring academic standards — said the University of Physical Education, which approved the thesis, “cannot object to investigating the accusations.”
“It is the task of the university to examine the case in the name of ethics of science,” Gyorgy Bazsa added.
Now part of a larger cluster of institutions, the former Physical Education University which awarded the doctorate in 1992 has not commented on the case yet.
In 2011 Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned as German defence minister after admitting “serious mistakes” in his 2006 legal dissertation at the German university of Bayreuth.