Romania prime minister seeks to clear name over plagiarism charge

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2012 7:18 AM
Romania prime minister seeks to clear name over plagiarism charge
BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Friday he had asked an ethics panel to investigate accusations that he plagiarized parts of his doctoral thesis, in a bid to clear his name and end speculation over his future.Ponta, who took over in May with a mandate to keep Romania's 5 billion euro ($6.3 billion) IMF-led aid deal on track, has said he will not quit over the allegations published this week in the journal Nature.Plagiarism charges have forced several European politicians to step down, including Hungary's president, a German defense minister who was tipped as a possible successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Ponta's nomination as education minister.But Ponta said the charges are part of a political plot against him by President Traian Basescu.He said he had submitted his thesis for examination by an ethics panel of the Education Ministry, adding that he did not know how long it would take."I made the request so that this torture does not have to be extended any longer," he told foreign media.British scientific journal Nature reported on Monday it had seen documents showing more than half of Ponta's 432-page thesis on the workings of the International Criminal Court had been copied from other sources.The prime minister said his bibliography listed the papers he had consulted.Ponta, Romania's third prime minister this year, has tried to shore up investor confidence by working with the International Monetary Fund, but political uncertainty has contributed to keeping the leu currency near record lows.His leftist Social Liberal Union is favorite to win a majority in a November election.Ponta has criticized the president, who has close links to the opposition centre-right Democrat-Liberal Party, for pushing austerity measures. The two have since clashed over who will represent Romania at a European Council meeting this month."I am not considering making any concession in what I believe is a personal political battle between me and President Basescu," Ponta said."I don't believe anyone was actually interested in analyzing my thesis."(Reporting by Ioana Patran; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)