Scandal-hit Hungary president to address parliament

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 02, 2012 6:48 AM
Scandal-hit Hungary president to address parliament

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian President Pal Schmitt, who was stripped of his doctorate last week in a plagiarism row, is expected to speak at a parliament session later on Monday, according to a schedule posted on parliament's website.

The unexpected appearance comes after a weekend protest outside Schmitt's palace, where hundreds of people demanded his resignation over a months-long scandal.

Parliament's website said 69-year-old Schmitt, the least popular president since the collapse of communism, was due to address lawmakers before regular business starts at 1100 GMT.

It did not provide any details of the president's planned remarks and his press office declined to give any information.

Based on parliament's house rules, the president can initiate his resignation with a declaration addressed to parliament.

Schmitt, an ally of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was stripped of his doctorate last Thursday after a plagiarism row that drew opposition calls for his resignation.

Local media reported that Schmitt had met with Orban earlier on Monday. The president's office did not confirm this.

Orban, who called Schmitt the most suitable candidate for the job before his appointment by parliament for a 5-year term in 2010, has said it was up to Schmitt to decide his future.

Schmitt has resisted pressure to quit, telling public television in a Friday interview there was no link between his revoked doctorate and his role as head of state.

The president has denied wrongdoing since business news portal hvg.hu broke allegations in January that he had copied large parts of his 1992 thesis from other authors without proper quotes or referencing.

Semmelweis University stripped Schmitt of his title, saying his thesis did not meet scientific and ethical standards. Schmitt has said his conscience was clear, taking issue with the swift decision by the university.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)