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Cabinet Profile

Slovakia's new coalition government was officially sworn in on October 30. The Slovak Spectator has profiled the cabinet below, and will feature interviews in the upcoming weeks with Ministers from the four coalition parties - the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP), the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL).
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Slovakia's new coalition government was officially sworn in on October 30. The Slovak Spectator has profiled the cabinet below, and will feature interviews in the upcoming weeks with Ministers from the four coalition parties - the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP), the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL).

Profiles:

Mikuláš Dzurinda
Prime Minister
SDK Chairman

Mikuláš Dzurinda, 43, is vice-chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) for economics. He was born in the eastern Slovak village of Spišský Štvrtok, and is currently married with two children.

Dzurinda studied railroad transportation at Žilina University, and then worked as a researcher with the Transport Research Institute in Žilina. In 1988, he achieved the academic degree of Candidate of Sciences (CsC) in railway transport, and has since worked in this area as a consultant and lecturer.

Dzurinda served as economic secretary of the Slovak Ministry of Transport and Communications from 1991 to 1992. During the government of Jozef Moravčík (March-December 1994), Dzurinda served as the Minister of Transport, Communications and Public Works.

In October 1997, he became the spokesperson of the coalition of five opposition parties that formed the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), and then transformed the loose coalition into a single electoral party in May 1998. At the same time that the SDK party was born, Dzurinda was elected its chairman.


Pavol Hamžík
Vice-Premier, EU Integration
SOP first Vice-Chairman

Born in 1954 in Trenčín, Hamžík is a graduate of the Law Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava. He is a career diplomat who worked at the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry in Prague from 1984, and later served as consul at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Denmark and the Slovak Ambassador to Germany. He studied at the School of Diplomacy in Moscow, Russia.

From August 1996 to June 1997, he was Foreign Minister of the Slovak Republic in the Mečiar government, but resigned over the referendum fiasco, when a crucial question on direct election of the preseident was struck from ballots. Hamžík then founded the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP) in February 1998, along with Košice mayor Rudolf Schuster.


Lubomír Fogaš
Vice-Premier for Legislation
SDĽ Vice-Chairman

A graduate of the Law Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, Fogaš was born in 1950 in Podolie, a small village near the western Slovak city of Trenčín. He is married with two children. Beginning in 1974, he worked as a law lecturer and later associate professor at Comenius.

Since 1990, Fogaš has been a parlaimentary deputy for the reformed communist SDĽ party, as well as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly at the Council of Europe.


Pál Csáky
Vice-Premier for Human Rights and Minorities
SMK Vice-Chairman

Pál Csáky was one of the co-founders in 1989 of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement (MKDH) and since 1990 has been an MKDH parliamentary deputy. Since 1995, he has also been a member of the Permanent Delegation of the Slovak National Council in the European Parliament.

Csáky is married with three daughters. Born in the southern Slovak city of Šahy in 1956, Csáky studied at the Technology Faculty of the University of Pardubice in the Czech Republic. Before getting into politics, he worked as a technology manager with Levitex, a textile company in the southern Slovak city of Levice.


Pavol Kanis
Minister of Defence
SDĽ Vice-Chairman

Born in Prague in 1948, Kanis studied history and philosophy at Comenius University in Bratislava, and in 1996 graduated from the Comenius Law Faculty. He is married with two children.

From 1972 to 1989, Kanis worked as a law researcher, and then from 1990 to 1992 served as a member of the Czechoslovak Federal Parliament. Since 1992, he has worked as a Parliamentary deputy and held a post on the Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the Defence and Security Committee.


Mária Machová
Minister of Privatization, SOP

Before entering politics this year, Machová was head of the public economy department at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia. She has also held the position of executive director of Harvard Capital and Consulting Slovakia, an international stock brokerage firm. She is single and interested in the arts.

Born in 1953 in Prievaly, a village in western Slovakia, Machová was educated at the Economic University in Bratislava and later at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.


Brigita Schmögnerová
Minister of Finance
SDĽ Vice-Chairwoman

Schmögnerová, 51, has a strong background in economics. She studied at the Economic University in Bratislava, where she also taught as a lecturer for five years after graduating. By 1979 she had achieved the academic degree of Candiate of Sciences (CsC), and finished her PhD at Comenius University in Bratislava.

From 1976 until 1993, Schmögnerová worked as a economic scientist with the Economic Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. In 1993, she was chosen to be the head of the economic policy department of the Office of the President. In 1994, she became vice-chairwoman of the Slovak Government, and since 1994 has been a Parliamentary deputy for the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ). In 1996, she was elected party vice-chairwoman. Schmögnerová is married with one son.


Ján Čarnogurský
Minister of Justice, SDK

Čarnogurský, now 54, was a well-known religious activist and political dissident during the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. Born in Bratislava, he studied at Charles University in Prague and was awarded a PhD in Law at Comenius University in Bratislava in 1971. From 1970 till 1981, he worked as a lawyer in Bratislava, but because of his work as a defence lawyer in political trials, Čarnogurský was barred from practising law.

He then worked as a driver, and later as a corporation lawyer. In 1987 he was again deprived of his legal status. He played an active role in the dissident environment, strongly opposing the totalitarian regime. He secretly helped political and religious convicts as a legal consultant. In 1988 he started to publish a samizdat magazine - Bratislavské listy. He organized a memorial for the victims of the 1968 intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops in Czechoslovakia.

In August 1989, he was convicted of illegal activities against the socialist regime and imprisoned. He was released from jail in November 1989 when the Velvet Revolution overturned the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. He became the first vice-chairman of the post-revolution government, in which he was responsible for legal affairs, including the transition from the communist legal environment to the democratic one.

Čarnogurský is also one of the founders of the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) in Slovakia, and was elected chairman in 1990, a post he has held ever since. After national elections in 1990, he became the first vice-chairman of the Slovak cabinet, and from April 1991 to June 1992, he was premier of the Slovak government. Since June 1992 he has served as a parliamentary deputy for the KDH movement. In April 1997 he was elected vice-chairman of the European Union of Christian Democrats.


Peter Magvaši
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, SDĽ

Magvaší, 53, has a long business pedigree. He has worked with Považské Strojárne, an engineering corporation in western Slovakia, as director of another engineering firm, ZVL Kolárovo, and then as sales director at the ZŤS Martin, an engineering company in the north of the country.

In 1993, he became the general director of the National Insurance Company, and then strategy director of Chirana Prema, Slovakia's well known health care equipment producer. He was a member of the Board of Directors at the Slovak privatisation agency, the National Property Fund (FNM), and then served as Minister of Economy in the 1994 Moravčík government. A parliamentary deputy with the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ), he is married with two children


Ľudovít Černák
Minister of Economy, SDK

Černák, 47, was born in Hliník nad Hronom in central Slovakia. Having studied electrotechnical engineering at university, he joined ZSNP Žiar nad Hronom, an engineering corporation, where he became general director.

He was originally a parliamentary deputy for the far right Slovak National Party (SNS), of which he became the chairman. But after being dismissed from the party, he became a member of the Democratic Union. He is married with three children.


István Harna
Minister of Construction and Public Works, SMK

Harna is 58 years old, and has a strong business background. Having graduated from the Economic University in Bratislava, he worked as an economic researcher, corporate manager and as a senior lecturer at his alma mater. He was one of the founders of the Egyuttelés-Coexistence movement, an ethnic Hungarian party which is now part of the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK). He has served as a parliamentary deputy for the last four years. He is married with three children.


Pavol Koncoš
Minister of Agriculture, SDĽ

Koncoš, 51, was born in Rimavská Píla in southern Slovakia. He graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture of the University in Nitra, and then worked with a number of agricultural firms. In 1991 he was named president of the Slovak Agricultural Union, which later became the Slovak Agricultural and Greengrocers Chamber. He has been a parliamentary deputy for the SDĽ party and in 1994 served as the Minister of Agriculture. He is married with one daughter.


Gabriel Palacka
Minister of Transport, SDK

Palacka comes from a market economy background. Born in 1960 in Komárno in the south of Slovakia, he graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Comenius University in Bratislava and then won a scholarship to study at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He worked as a manager and consultant with MESA 10, an independent market research and consulting company. He was state secretary of the Ministry of Privatisation of National Property in 1994, and has been a parliamentary deputy for the Christian Democrats, later part of the SDK coalition party. He is married with two children.


Ladislav Pittner
Minister of the Interior, SDK

Pittner, at 64, is the oldest member of the government. Born in Malacky in western Slovakia, he was imprisoned between 1951 and 1953 for activities against the socialist Czechoslovak regime. Once out of jail, he worked as a labourer with Tatra-Regena, a state-owned machinery firm, and was eventually promoted to company sales director.

While working, he graduated from the Economic University in Bratislava, and achieved several academic degrees. After 1989, he served as deputy director of the Office for the Protection of Democracy and the Constitution in Prague. Later he became the Interior Minister in the Moravčík government and a parliamentary deputy for the SDK coalition party. He is married with four children.


László Miklós
Minister of Environment, SMK

Miklós, 49, hails from Tornaľa in the south-east of Slovakia. He studied natural sciences at Comenius University in Bratislava, and then went on to work with the Institute of Experimental Biology and Ecology at the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV). He has served as vice-chairman of the Slovak Environmental Commission, state secretary at the Ministry of Environment and chairman of the Council of Scientists at the SAV Regional Environment Institute. He has also lectured at various universities in Denmark and Austria. He is married with two children.


Milan Ftáčnik
Minister of Education, SDĽ

One of the best English-language speakers in the new government, Ftáčnik, 42, was born in Bratislava. He graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Comenius University, and then lectured at the Cybernetics Department and the Department of Computer Graphics. A parliamentary deputy for the reformed communist SDĽ party, Ftáčnik also served on the Parliamentary committee which had oversight for media. He is married with two children.

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