Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BBC News: Romanian PM Victor Ponta rejects plagiarism claim

Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta has rejected claims that he plagiarised large sections of his doctoral thesis, which was published in 2003.

A report in the science magazine Nature suggests more than half of Mr Ponta's work was made up of copied text.

Mr Ponta has strenuously denied the allegations and resisted calls for his resignation.

He says the claims are politically motivated and says President Traian Basescu is behind them.

The British-based magazine says it has been shown documents by an anonymous whistleblower that shows that "substantial" sections of text on the workings of the International Criminal Court are "identical" to material written by other law scholars.

It says the evidence shows that more than half of the 432-page thesis for Mr Ponta's doctorate at the University of Bucharest was copied.

The study was published in book form in 2004, and also formed the basis of a 2010 book on liability in international humanitarian law.

A former PhD student, Daniela Coman, is named as co-author.

The magazine quoted Marius Andruh, a chemist at the University of Bucharest and president of the Romanian council for the recognition of university diplomas, as saying: "The evidence of plagiarism is overwhelming."

'Political weapons'

Prime Minister Ponta says the bibliography lists the papers he consulted. He has pointed out the foreword has been written by Ion Diaconu, one of the writers whose work he is accused of plagiarising.

The prime minister said he was prepared to submit his work to the education ministry commission for checks.

"If the commission tells me I wasn't supposed to list the bibliography at the end but insert it as footnotes, of course I will give up my doctor's title immediately. I am not mad about titles, I don't care about this one.

"If this is a mistake, then I am willing to pay for it," he told a news conference.

There was "no way" he would resign, he added.

Victor Ponta became Romania's third prime minister in less than six months when his left-wing-dominated Social Liberal Union (USL) alliance took charge in May 2012.

The previous government had been unseated in a no-confidence vote, just two months after taking office.

Mr Ponta has vowed to fight "injustices" caused by austerity measures of the outgoing cabinet.

Parliamentary elections are due in November.

President Basescu has close links with the centre-right opposition Democrat-Liberal Party (PDL), and Mr Ponta told journalists that trust between the two leaders was "zero".

"You know very well this is a pretext of a political war between President Basescu and I, a war each of us leads with their own weapons," he said.

Officials in Mr Basescu's office have declined to comment.

Plagiarism charges have forced several European politicians to step down in recent months, including Romania's education minister.

Hungary's president and a German defence minister who was tipped as a possible successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel have also resigned over plagiarism rows.

No comments: