Ljubljana – The government has once again decided against appointing Lidija Tičar Padar as acting director of the Public Research Agency (ARRS). Instead, it replaced at Thursday’s session four members of the agency’s management board.
The government had rejected Tičar Padar once before, but the management board proposed her for the top post again, only to see the proposal rejected a second time.
It however dismissed four members of the ARRS’s management board who were appointed on proposal from the Ministry of Education: Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Tonček Kregar, Jana Kolar and Justina Erčulj.
They have been replaced by Igor Emri, Gabrijela Horvat, Fidel Krupić and Tina Tomažič, also proposed by the Ministry of Education, who will serve until the end of the management board’s term in October 2024.
The newspaper Dnevnik reported today that the ARRS management board reconsidered all the candidates after the government’s rejection and selected Tičar Padar as their candidate for a second time on Monday.
The move comes after Tičar Padar’s appointment was endorsed by the Coordination of Independent Research Institutes (KOsRIS), which expressed a wish on Wednesday for the situation at the ARRS to be resolved and warned against political interference in the agency’s management.
Their calls were echoed by the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union (SVIZ) in a press release today. They expressed outrage at the government’s decision to reject Tičar Padar and accused the ministry of “interfering by imposing its candidate”.
“The fact that the government unreasonably rejected a candidate whose suitability had previously been carefully assessed by the management board also shows an unprofessional attitude towards science,” the trade union said.
They added that financing of science in Slovenia would be further endangered by such moves. This also seriously threatens the payment of Slovenian scientists’ salaries, as the ARRS will become leaderless in a couple of days.
The SVIZ also expressed support for Tičar Padar’s appointment. According to them, she meets all the necessary professional standards, including a thorough knowledge of the agency’s activities and the work of the EU institutions in this field.
The Ministry of Education has responded by saying that the payment of salaries to Slovenian scientists is in no way jeopardised by the fact that Tičar Padar has not been appointed acting director.
“An acting director will be appointed in due course, before the expiry of the current director’s term. The agency will continue to operate and the disbursement of funds to research organisations will not be jeopardised,” the ministry’s website reads.
The current director’s term expires at the end of the month.