Serbia president defends minister in plagiarism dispute

International

FILE – In this Sunday, April 2, 2017 file photo, Sinisa Mali attends a press conference after presidential election in Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia’s finance minister faced calls to resign Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019 after a university said he plagiarized parts of his Ph.D. thesis. Belgrade University, one of Serbia’s most prestigious places of learning, said in a statement that Sinisa Mali “literally took over texts, or entire paragraphs, from the texts of other authors without listing the names of the authors.” (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, file)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia’s president has dismissed calls for the resignation of the Balkan country’s finance minister triggered by a university ruling that he plagiarized parts of the doctoral thesis.

Aleksandar Vucic on Friday told Prva TV that Sinisa Mali “is doing an excellent job.” Vucic describes the decision on Mali’s 2013 paper as “deeply political.”

Belgrade University, arguably Serbia’s most prestigious place of learning, on Thursday said Mali “literally took over texts, or entire paragraphs, from the texts of other authors without listing the names of the authors.”

Mali has denied this. He too has suggested the decision is political, adding “I know how hard I’ve worked to be a best student.”

Opponents of Vucic’s populists have called for protests to press for the resignation of Mali, a former mayor of Belgrade.

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