The Slovenia Times

Peršak appointed new culture minister


Taking his oath, Peršak pledged to get down to work at the ministry "at accelerated pace" and "energetically" in order to implement the tasks set out in the coalition agreement.

He expressed his wish to productively cooperate to the benefit of cultural development with those who supported him as well as those opposing his appointment.

So far serving as state secretary at the Culture Ministry, Peršak succeeds Julijana Bizjak Mlakar, who was forced to resign in late April over her management of a UNESCO-listed mercury mine.

Peršak has been a prominent figure in Slovenian politics and culture for decades after being involved in democratisation efforts in the 1980s.

Welcoming the "convincing majority" won by Peršak, PM Miro Cerar repeated his expectation that the new minister would step up work on systemic change, improve dialogue with the stakeholders and implement the coalition agreement in cooperation with other cabinet members.

In an indication that he plans to act on the expectations, Peršak said that he was taking over at the ministry immediately today with his first priority to draw up an action plan with the help of the staff.

Strategies by individual sections covered by the ministry would follow, with the first dealing with the media. He also mentioned "urgent tasks in the legislative field".

In the debate preceding the vote, Cerar said he expected Peršak to take "determined steps" toward reforming the cultural policy in order to adapt it to contemporary needs and ensure the sector's autonomy.

Expectations that the new minister would finally start implementing necessary changes were also expressed by MPs, most of whom praised his expertise and experience in politics and culture.

The only faction openly opposing his appointment was the opposition Democrats (SDS), who questioned Bizjak Mlakar's replacement in the first place, arguing she had to go because she obeyed the law.

The party also accused Peršak of promoting the 2013 expulsion of SDS leader Janez Janša's from Slovenian PEN Centre.

Peršak served as president of Slovenian PEN Centre in 2004-2009. He was also the president of the Slovenian Writers' Association between 2001 and 2003.

After a spell in politics at the national level in the 1990s, he served for 16 years as mayor of Trzin, a small but wealthy municipality just north of Ljubljana.

In the 1980s he co-authored a document known as the writers' constitution, which called for a greater sovereignty of Slovenia within Yugoslavia and served as a blueprint for the Slovenian Constitution adopted in 1991.

Peršak was also a co-founder and the first president of the Democratic Party of Slovenia (DS) in 1994-1999 and got elected to the first line-up of the National Assembly (1992-1996). A year later he unsuccessfully stood as a candidate in the presidential election.


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