President Klaus Iohannis stated on Monday, at the start of the academic year, that plagiarism accusations have to be analysed expeditiously and the verdict should come in due time, “it should not take as long as the drafting of the actual thesis took,” as happened in the case of the first verdict which took 3-4 years (Victor Ponta’s case – editor’s note).
“More or less public persons are being accused of plagiarism and there are many discussions whether that is true or false. This discussion has grown in scope lately, I consider this to be a good thing,” Iohannis stated in the speech he gave at the West University of Timisoara, marking the start of the academic year.
He turned to the Education Minister, present in the hall, and told him that analysing the doctoral theses is an important public topic and it is up to him to clarify it.
In his pleading for the topic of plagiarism to be treated expeditiously, he argued thus: “We are not interested how that commission is called, we are interested in it being analysed in due time. If a politician plagiarised, he should disappear from politics; if a professor plagiarised, he should disappear from academic life; but if they didn’t then this should be discussed in due time because reputation is easy to destroy but very hard to rebuild. After a year nobody is interested anymore, the person concerned is left with the label of plagiarist.”
Iohannis emphasised that there is the need for rapid, clear, credible procedures. “It’s damaging for this discussion to be prolonged, it is so clear we need expedience,” the Head of State said. “We are all interested to have a clear, unequivocal verdict. (…) It would be very late for a verdict to come after a year,” the Head of State insisted.
“It’s very important to have a clear verdict and in due time,” the President stressed, adding that “it is obvious that in the meantime politicians have discovered that accusing someone of plagiarism is a vote-winning manoeuver.”
Iohannis emphasised that the talks on this topic have grown in scope – in contrast to the first notorious case which took 3-4 years to reach a verdict.
The Cluj-based Group for University Reform and Alternative (GRAUR) has announced that it has sent to all relevant institutions a letter asking for an inquiry into Codruta Kovesi’s case, the NGO claiming that it discovered 11 cases of plagiarism in her doctoral thesis.
The request comes after MP Sebastian Ghita filed with the General Prosecutor’s Office, last week, a denunciation in which he claims he and other state officials took part in falsifying the commission’s report on the doctoral thesis of National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. A probe into instigation of forgery has been opened as a result, the first person heard being the MP himself. He stated that he allegedly helped Kovesi because they were friends. In reply, Codruta Kovesi stated: “I don’t want to enter a dialogue with defendant Ghita Sebastian. I was not, I am not and I will not be friends with defendant Ghita Sebastian.” The DNA Chief Prosecutor pointed out she will not ask CNATDCU to re-analyse her doctoral thesis, claiming that whoever challenges it is free to file a notification.
“We need better, highly performing, more transparent Parliament”
President Klaus Iohannis on Monday said that a strong Romania cannot be built unless meritocracy is restored, insisting that the country needs a better Parliament that is highly performing and more transparent.
“I believe we cannot build a strong Romania, a respected Romania, unless we manage to restore and impose meritocracy. How can you be credible in the eyes of others when if you want to advance you have to know somebody rather than know something? Enough! That is why we have to get rid of these procedures that lead to the absence of transparency, procedures that encourage nepotism. We have to return to a predictable Romania, with transparent procedures, educated people and an efficient school and university administration that have to be done for society, not for a part of society. All this will be in fact the stakes of the general election and always will be, because if we have a highly performing Parliament, then the law that a minister sponsors, which clarifies doctoral procedures, will pass instead of being returned by some smart alecks in Parliament. We need a better, highly performing and more transparent parliament,” Iohannis told the opening of the new academic year at the West University of Timisoara in western Romania.
He added that there is no other way for a citizen to put order in politics than by voting.
“We need politicians who will build a better Romania,” said Iohannis.
“There are very many backward anti-judiciary and revanchist discourses, which do not solve the slightest problem in Romania. They only seem interesting because there are people concerned with the fate of the nation, but in reality what we have to look for are politicians who get involved for the nation and who want to build for the future,” added Iohannis.
He said students and younger people should also get involved.
“You have to be a strong voice telling what you want from our Romania. I believe that Timisoara, which has more than proved it understands what speaking up is; I am convinced that this Timisoara will keep existing in the future. That is why I am convinced that students, young people and the faculty staff will rise up to tell in a strong voice how they want Romania’s future to look like,” Iohannis concluded.
President Iohannis to students: Please join parties
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis recommended students on Monday to get more involved in the activity of the non-governmental organizations, in students’ organizations and even in politics, adding that the educational system will in this way be more in the attention of those who decide its fate.
During a debate organized at the West University of Timisoara, marking the start of the new academic year, the President responded this way to a student that raised several problems concerning the education system, from plagiarism to education financing.
“I believe that students have wonderful powerful instruments. When you listen to politicians, all of you, myself included, they will refer to young people and students: they are the obvious future. But this future must have a voice and therefore make yourselves heard, protest if you’re not taken seriously. If not you, then who? Come up with solutions, it’s paramount,” Klaus Iohannis stated.
He insisted on underscoring that he supports the independence of the academic environment from politics, but appreciated that it would be “a fundamental error” if students didn’t get more involved in non-governmental organization’s activity or in politics, outside the school.
“I admit and support the academic environment’s independence, but it would be a shame, a fundamental error, if individual students wouldn’t have a political option. You have to think in a political way, not in the university, but in society. Then get involved! Get involved in non-governmental organizations, in students’ organizations and please join political parties. How do you want to eliminate those dinosaurs who have outdated discourses if nobody rises up? They take up a large space, casting a big shadow, shrink it!” Iohannis concluded.