The Slovenia Times

Ministers in the Janez Janša government


Anže Logar - foreign minister

Anže Logar, a 43-year-old senior member of the Democratic Party (SDS), holds a Phd in political sociology. He is seen by many as a possible heir of SDS's long time head Janša.

He is considered an ardent advocate of a strong EU and of NATO, and strengthening Slovenia's position in the two organisations will be his top priority. He also intends to focus on preparations for Slovenia's second EU presidency coming up in the second half of 2021, having been part of the team in charge of Slovenia's first EU presidency, when he served as the head of the Government Communications Office.

Logar will take over as Slovenia's tenth foreign minister to date, succeeding Miro Cerar. Compared to his predecessors Cerar and Karl Erjavec before him, Logar intends to focus less on Slovenia's relations with Croatia. However, he does not intend to make any major changes in Slovenia's policy toward Croatia.

Between 2013 and 2014 Logar has served at the Foreign Ministry's Business Diplomacy Directorate and has acquired the diplomatic title of minister plenipotentiary. He has been an MP since 2014.

Matej Tonin - minister of defence

The 36-year-old head of New Slovenia (NSi) has been in politics since joining the NSi in 2001. A decade later, he became an MP for the party, after having been elected NSi's vice president a year earlier.

He has been a member of parliament ever since, serving as the head of the NSi's deputy group the entire time. In the past two years, he has also served as the chair of the parliamentary commission for the oversight of intelligence and security services, a high-profile role in which he often clashed with the government and security services.

He holds a masters degree in political sciences and first started working with the NSi's deputy group in 2007, serving as consultant on public relations.

Tonin is seen as a moderniser intent on rejuvenating the conservative party of which he became the leader in January 2018, after the resignation of NSi's long time president Ljudmila Novak. Some six months later, the party got seven seats in parliament, two more than in the 2014 election.

Aleš Hojs - interior minister

This is the second time that the 58-year-old director of Nova24TV, a broadcaster co-owned by the SDS, has become a minister in a Janša-led government, after having served as defence minister between 2012 and 2013.

The construction engineer started his political career in the Christian Democrats, and after the party merged with the People's Party (SLS) he joined New Slovenia (NSi). He was expelled from the NSi in 2016 over insulting comments about the party in the media. After that he joined the SDS and unsuccessfully ran in the 2018 parliamentary elections but nevertheless became one of the party's most prominent and vocal members.

He chairs the defence committee of the SDS expert council and presides the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence, a veterans' association established by centre-right individuals around Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Hojs also served as a member of the management board of the national motorway company DARS between 2006 and 2010, where he was in charge of the vignette system implementation in 2008.

Andrej Šircelj - finance minister

Andrej Šircelj, 61, is not new to the Finance Ministry, having worked there between 1992 and 1996 as a tax advisor. Between 2006 and 2008 he served as PM Janša's state secretary in charge of finance. He holds a bachelor's degree in economy and a master's degree in law.

In 2008 and 2009 he was a board member of the European Investment Bank (EIB). In 2013, he was appointed one of four temporary non-executive directors of the bad bank by Janša's second government.

He has held a variety of jobs, teaching, consulting on taxes, working for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), Iskra, Deloitte & Touche and Gorenjska Banka.

A member of the SDS, has been elected MP at every general election since 2011, his work there focusing on public finance.

Zdravko Počivalšek - economic development and technology minister

The 62-year-old engineer of agronomy and experienced manager is staying on as economy minister in the third consecutive government after e entered politics in 2014, when he joined the government of Miro Cerar. He kept the post in the government of Marjan Šarec.

As minister, Počivalšek has focused on the development and consolidation of the tourism sector, support for domestic and foreign direct investments, and the fate of the retailer Mercator after the demise of its Croatian owner Agrokor. Počivalšek has been credited with a breakthrough in FDI, including the arrival of major greenfield investments.

The project of Magna's paint shop in particular earned him criticism as well, because of the site's location on prime farming land near Maribor and because the Austrian-Canadian corporation was granted special treatment in administrative procedures.

Počivalšek's managerial experience dates back to the mid-1980s when he was a member of a crisis management team tasked with turning around the agricultural cooperative in Šmarje pri Jelšah, of which he later became general manager. He also served as general manager at the dairy Mlekarne Celeia starting in 1995, before joining Terme Olimia in 1999.

Tomaž Gantar - health minister

Gantar, a urologist who will soon turn 60, is taking over the Health Ministry for a second time. He already held the post in the second Janez Janša government and in the Alenka Bratušek government between February 2012 and November 2014. The first time, he took over the ministry when Slovenia was still in the grip of the economic and financial crisis; now, the country is at the height of a COVID-19 epidemic.

After the fall of the second Janša government in 2013, Gantar's party, DeSUS, joined the incoming coalition headed by Alenka Bratušek, with Gantar staying on as health minister. He resigned in November 2013, after the coalition was unable to push through health reform, pointing in his resignation to corruption in health care. He became an MP in 2014, serving also as chair of the parliamentary Health Committee.

In the party, he was the right-hand man of former head Karl Erjavec for a long time. But in September 2019, Gantar resigned as vice-president, saying Erjavec's leading style was becoming ever less democratic. In January, he endorsed the party's current president Aleksandra Pivec as she rivalled Erjavec for the position.

He has also been active locally, as the mayor of the coastal municipality of Piran between 2006 and 2010, while he surprisingly lost the local election in 2018. He was the director of the Izola hospital between 2000 and 2004, also practising medicine the entire time.

Andrej Vizjak - environment and spatial planning minister

Vizjak is a long-standing member of the Democrats (SDS) who served as minister under both Janez Janša governments. He was the economy minister from 2004 to 2008, and labour, family and social affairs minister in the 2012-2013 cabinet.

The 55-year-old holds a master's degree in electrical engineering and worked at heavy machinery manufacturer Litostroj and as a young researcher at the Jožef Stefan Institute early in his career. In 1994 he started working at the Krško Labour Inspectorate before being appointed a state secretary at the Labour, Family and Social Affairs Ministry in 2000.

While also being the mayor of Brežice from 2002 to 2004, he served two terms as MP, including as the head of the SDS deputy group. After failing to get elected to parliament in 2014, he was put in charge of development and investment at hydroelectric power plant operator HESS, part of state-owned Gen Energija. In 2015, he also became the CEO of the company Partner, which is owned by HESS and is dealing with construction.

Vizjak is seen as an experienced political veteran who is skilled in the business sector too. He highlighted his experience in the private sector as an asset as he was grilled by the parliamentary committee.

Jernej Vrtovec - infrastructure minister

Vrtovec, born in 1985, is a young but experienced politician who established a local NSi committee while still in secondary school.

Vrtovec, who graduated from the Ljubljana Faculty of Theology, was the head of the NSi's youth wing between 2009 and 2015 and also served as the party's public relations officer. He was first elected to parliament in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.

In 2016, he published a book, The Role of Archbishop Šuštar in Slovenia's Independence.

Since the beginning of 2019 he has been chairing a parliamentary inquiry into suspected abuse of office at the bad bank.

Janez Cigler Kralj - minister of labour, the family, social affairs and equal opportunities

Cigler Kralj, 41, has a degree in political sciences and served as the NSi deputy group's public relations officer between 2006 and 2008, when he left to work for Infonet Media, a network of radio stations, for two years, followed by a two-year stint at the Public Fund for Human Resources Development and Scholarships. In 2012 he returned to the National Assembly as a staffer for the deputy group.

The 42-year old from Slovenj Gradec has been an NSi member since 2004. As the head of the NSi's Workers' Association he has been working with the German-based European Centre for Workers' Questions and the European Union of Christian Democratic Workers at the European People's Party.

He says he has been cooperating with representatives of trade unions and employers from Slovenia and the entire EU. He has also been an active member of many local and national NGOs.

Lilijana Kozlović - justice minister

Lilijana Kozlović, who holds an master's degree in law, entered politics in 2014 when she was elected MP for the Miro Cerar Party, now the Modern Centre Party (SMC).

In 2016 she became secretary general of the Miro Cerar government and was a key member of the task force overseeing the implementation of the Slovenia-Croatia border arbitration award. Toward the end of the government's term she took over as top negotiator with public sector trade unions.

In May 2019, Kozlovič was appointed the director of the Slovenian Environment Agency, an agency under the purview of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning.

Before entering politics, Kozlovič, who was born in 1962, headed the Koper Administrative Unit for nine years, and before that she had served as an undersecretary at the Public Administration Ministry's directorate for e-administration. Her first job in the 1980s was with the Koper Police Department.

Simona Kustec - minister of education, science and sports

Kustec, born in 1976, holds a PhD in political sciences and is a tenured professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. She joined the Modern Centre Party (SMC) in 2014 and became its vice-president.

After she was elected MP, she went on to become the deputy group leader and as such one of the most prominent members of the SMC. After the end of the term in 2018 she left politics and returned to academia. She is now a full professor.

She is returning to politics after a two-year break to lead a ministry she says she has been connected to in one way or another all her life.

Kustec is a mother of two, a devoted blood donor, supporter of humanitarian associations and an advocate of the LGBT community. She also says she is religious, although she does not strictly follow a particular creed.

Aleksandra Pivec - minister of agriculture, forestry and food

The 47-year-old who holds a PhD in chemical engineering has already led the agriculture department during the Marjan Šarec government, after serving as a state secretary at the Office for Slovenians Abroad between 2016 and 2018.

Her work in the previous government was overshadowed by suspicions of wrongdoing in an EU-funded tourism project, a scandal into which the investigation continues, although she is not among those investigated.

It had been widely expected the scandal would hurt her bid for the party presidency, but instead she completed one of the biggest upsets in party politics and defeated the long-serving DeSUS president Karl Erjavec at the January congress to become the new DeSUS leader.

She previously worked as early stage researcher at the Ljubljana Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology and on the research team at the Bistra Ptuj Science and Research Centre. She worked at the centre for 17 years, including six years as director.

Boštjan Koritnik - minister of public administration

Koritnik, 40, is a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, secretary general of the Association of Slovenian Jurists and editor of the law journals Pravna Praksa and Javna Uprava.

He started out as a journalist for the newspaper Delo's business desk and in 2006 went on to GV Založba, a publisher specialising in law and business, where he soon became editor and legal counsel before he was appointed director and editor-in-chief in 2010.

After the company was merged with legal information provider IUS Software, he was co-director until 2015. He is also the CEO of Založba, the Faculty of Law's publisher, and a director and shareholder of the publisher Založba Audibook.

During the parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday he told MPs he had been very much involved in entrepreneurship, especially startups specialising in new technologies and publishing.

Vasko Simoniti - culture minister

Vasko Simoniti, 69, will have his second spell as culture minister after a stint the first Janez Janša government in 2004-2008 when he oversaw the adoption of the media act and the act governing the public broadcaster, as well as the launch of investment in several cultural institutions.

He spent most of his career at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, where he earned his PhD in history in 1989 and where he was professor of modern history until his retirement. In his research he dealt with history of Slovenian lands in the early New Age, history of South East Europe, military history and Slovenian 20th century history.

He entered politics in 2000 along with several prominent conservative writers and was among the founders of the Assembly for the Republic, a conservative think-tank, in 2004.

During his first stint as minister he faced a failed ouster attempt by the opposition who accused him of political interference in the media through state subsidies and of "purges" and political appointments in institutions under his watch, including the Slovenian Cinematheque and the Archives.

Zvonko Černač - development and European cohesion policy minister

Černač is coming to the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy from the National Assembly, having served as an MP of the SDS, with some interruptions, since 2004.

He has served on a number of parliamentary committees, including as chair of the commission for the oversight of security and intelligence services. In the meantime, he also served in 2012 as minister of infrastructure and spatial planning in the second government (2012-2013) of Janez Janša.

The 57-year-old graduate of the Ljubljana Faculty of Law previously worked in the ZSSS trade union confederation, the municipality of Postojna, the operator of the Postojna Cave, the Kobilarna Lipica stud farm, and the Postojna municipal housing fund. He also served as Postojna deputy mayor.

Prime Minister Janša has said his experience would help Slovenia improve the phasing of EU funds, the office's top priority.

Helena Jaklitsch - minister for Slovenians abroad

A historian and author born in 1977, Jaklitsch has a PhD in history from the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts. In her thesis she focussed on the educational and cultural activities of Slovenians in refugee camps in Austria and Italy in 1945-1950. Based on her work, the Institute for Recent History published a monograph on Slovenian refugees in camps in Italy.

She has also researched Bishop Gregorij Rožman, an ardent anti-communist and opponent of the Liberation Front and the Partisan forces, and the history of the Gottscheers, the Germans who first settled in the Kočevje region in south Slovenia in the 14th century. Her father is one on the few Gottscheers who can still speak the dialect and she says she was raised with the awareness that her family is both Slovenian and Gottschee.

Jaklitsch worked at the Justice Ministry between 2005 and 2014 as the head of the PR service, and as the head of human resources and chief of staff of former Justice Minister Senko Pličanič. She was also in charge of logistics preparations for Slovenia's EU presidency in 2008.

Since 2014 she has worked at the Culture Ministry, first at the department for Slovenian language and most recently at the directorate for creativity. She occasionally publishes articles in the media close to the Roman Catholic Church and the SDS.


More from Nekategorizirano