Hungarian President Pal Schmitt.

Hungary's President Pal Schmitt resigned on Monday, after he was stripped last week of his 1992 doctorate title following claims he plagiarised most of his 200-page thesis.

“Under the constitution, the president must represent the unity of the Hungarian nation. I have unfortunately become a symbol of division, I feel it is my duty to leave my position,” he told parliament.

Schmitt, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, leaves the ceremonial post less than two years after he took over the presidency in June 2010.

Rumours he might resign first arose on Friday, a day after Budapest's Semmelweis University stripped him of his PhD title, but Schmitt clung on, insisting that he could “see no link” between the plagiarism affair and his job.

The university found last week that the president copied “word-for-word” large passages of another writer's work in his thesis on the history of the Olympic Games.

Orban kept mostly out of the debate, telling public radio Friday that the president alone must make the decision on whether he should resign, while opposition parties had called on him to step down.

In Germany, then defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was also forced to resign last year over allegations that he too plagiarised his doctoral thesis. - AFP