Romanian prime minister rejects plagiarism findings


ROMANIAN PRIME minister Victor Ponta has rejected the findings of an academic panel that he plagiarised part of his doctoral thesis, and dismissed calls from opponents to resign.

The National Council for Certification of Titles, Diplomas and University Certificates ruled that 85 pages of Mr Ponta’s thesis were copied from other people’s work and were not given proper attribution, and that the premier’s qualification should be revoked.

“I found nothing but plagiarism of a copy-paste type,” said Marius Andruh, the president of the panel. “The council wanted to remove the title of doctor.”

The accusations first appeared in the respected science magazine Nature, which said more than half of Mr Ponta’s 432-page thesis was plagiarised.

The committee met despite an announcement by the education minister in Mr Ponta’s government that it was invalid.

Mr Ponta (39), who is Romania’s third premier this year as it pushes through tough austerity measures as part of a deal with international lenders, condemned the council’s decision and said it was part of efforts to undermine him masterminded by president Traian Basescu.

“The panel’s decision was politically motivated and illegal, the work of president Traian Basescu’s allies, adopted in retaliation for my participation in the European Council . . . I will not give up on the battle I have launched against such attacks. Quitting is out of the question,” Mr Ponta said.

Mr Ponta attended last week’s EU summit after a row with Mr Basescu over who should represent Romania.

The supervisor of Mr Ponta’s thesis was former Romanian premier Adrian Nastase, who last week started a two-year jail sentence for corruption.

He shot and lightly wounded himself when police came to take him to prison. Mr Nastase’s allies, including Mr Ponta, accuse Mr Basescu of pursuing a vendetta against him.