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May 18, 2021

Diploma Attestation Council finds PM Ponta guilty of plagiarism

Premier is not resigning, accuses President Traian Basescu of taking revenge following his presence at European Council in Brussels.

The National Council for the Attestation of University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU) during its session on Friday decided that Prime Minister Victor Ponta had plagiarised another author’s work for his doctoral thesis and proposed to the Ministry of Education to withdraw his PhD title. The President of the CNATDCU General Council, Marius Andruh, said that a 307 page work had been analysed page by page, the conclusion being that 85 pages represented reproduced content without quoting any source, very easily to detect. The Council also claims that, in respect of the bibliography, the source was not cited in the case of almost 40 pages of the thesis. The prime minister, minister of education, politicians and various academics however endorse the Council as legitimate. Victor Ponta has claimed that plagiarism allegations against him were a political decision, President Traian Basescu’s revenge for the fact that he had participated at the European Council and stressed out that he would not resign as prime minister. ‘It is a political and illegal decision made by people in the entourage of the president as reprisals for the fact that I had participated at the European Council. I will prove before the Ethics Committee of the Ministry of Education that I respected all rules! I am not dropping out of the fight that I have started because of these attacks. Resignation is out of the question!’ the PM answered to foreign journalists when departing from Brussels Friday night.

Reorganisation and accusations

Interim Education Minister Liviu Pop is also quoted by Mediafax as having said that all decisions made by the CNATDCU General Council on Friday were null and void as the 14 member presence requirement for a statutory meeting was not observed. The day before, Pop had issued an order for the reorganisation of the Council, with the argument that it was not competent for making any decisions in that respect. After the CNATDCU members had protested the ‘arbitrary and unmotivated’ manner in which they had been dismissed, calling upon the academic community to ‘condemn abuses’, Pop said the order was for the reorganisation rather than termination of the body. The minister further noted that, apart from the various operating shortcomings identified (the Ministry of Education had asked the Council to produce a work report in three days – our note), the decision had been made in order to set up a balanced Council from the point of view of the representation of the Romanian academic system. In addition, speaking on the Ponta case, the minister of education said plagiarism is a matter for the National Ethics Council, the only authority empowered to deal with the problem of a possible purloining and publication situation. The Rector of the Cluj-Napoca Babes-Boliyai University, Ioan Aurel Pop, also claims CNATDCU has no direct competence on the matter, explaining that a prior assessment by specialised committees made up of law specialists is required and that the Ethic Committee of the University of Bucharest, where the PM’s PhD thesis had been supported as well as the Ethics Committee of the Ministry of Education, dealing with matters of professional deontology, should make a decision in the Victor Ponta case.Neither does Administration and Interior Minister Ioan Rus believe that Ponta has any reasons to resign as long as ‘no investigation into an alleged plagiarism has been finalised’. PSD issued a release on Saturday accusing CNATDCU President Marius Andruh and Vice President Lucian Pintilie of working on political order, claiming that they had each obtained RON 7 M grants from the Ministry of Education while Daniel Funeriu was the Minister of Education. Andruh replies that the grant had been evaluated by foreign experts. The University of Bucharest has ‘got on the line’ as well, noting that the beneficiary of the RON 7 M project PSD refers to was the University and not professor Andruh.

Extensive reports in foreign press

The confirmation of the plagiarism accusations in Victor Ponta’s case intensify pressure for his resignation, creating a situation of political uncertainty that fuels investors’ concerns, Reuters states, quoted by Mediafax. AFP, on the other hand, notes two other European leaders had resigned in similar situations: German defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, last year and Hungarian President Pal Schmitt, this year. The Economist also reminds that Victor Ponta had been recently accused by the Nature magazine of purloining and publication with respect to his PhD paper, the Romanian PM rejecting allegations and claiming Traian Basescu was behind the scandal. German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wonders whether the CNATDCU decision was still valid after the Council members had been dismissed and comes to the conclusion that the Romanian Government had tried to prevent by all means an independent scientific probe into the plagiarism accusations.



Official Journal ‘officially’ with Government

The Government emergency ordinance taking away the Official Journal from the Chamber of Deputies and moving it under the authority of the Executive was published in the Official Journal on Saturday and is therefore in force. The Government’s explanation for taking over the official publication was that, every year, the Executive issues 3,000 acts and the Parliament only 400, as well as the fact that ‘important malfunctions had been identified with the Official Journal Autonomous Administration’.

Andreea Paul, also accused of plagiarism

Another suspicion of plagiarism hits the political scene. Andrea Paul (former Vass), freshly elected as democrat-liberal vice-president, is accused of plagiarism of her doctorate thesis. The former economic adviser of ex-premier Emil Boc graduated the doctorate in 2008. Andreea Paul is denying all allegations. The allegedly committed plagiarism was presented yesterday by jurnalul.ro, the paper saying that one of its readers has signaled that the doctorate thesis includes similar parts with fragments for which no bibliography had been indicated.



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