Hungarian President Pal Schmitt resigned after being stripped of his doctorate degree over plagiarism allegations.

Schmitt, who had initially refused to resign, saying the scandal was unrelated to his office, announced his decision to quit in a speech at the start of the parliaments' plenary session.

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, Schmitt said.

Schmitt, 69, was elected as Hungary's president in 2010 for a five-year term.

Schmitt's doctorate was revoked last week after an investigation panel of Budapest's Semmelweis University found that most of his thesis on modern Olympic games were copied from the works of certain Bulgarian and German authors. But the five-member panel had formally cleared Schmitt of plagiarism charges.

The issue erupted when the Hungarian magazine HGV published in January an article exposing the plagiarized content in his thesis. A large part (180 of the total 215 pages) of his 1992 research thesis was a literal translation of Bulgarian researcher Nikolay Georgiev's book on Olympics.

Other media, which followed up the issue, later found out that another 17 pages of the thesis were copied from German author Klaus Heinemann's research paper.

According to an Associated Press report, Hungary's ruling party Fidesz said it plans to have the parliament vote later Monday to accept the resignation after which the legislators will choose his successor as soon as possible.

Schmitt, a former fencer, had won two Summer Olympics gold medals.