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Slovakia gets new economy minister

PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič appointed Jirko Malchárek, a member of the group around Ľubomír Lintner that opposed the former Economy Minister Pavol Rusko, as the new economy minister on October 4.

Malchárek said that he views his challenge as a collective effort and his closest ally will be Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš, the daily SME reported.

The president dismissed New Citizens's Alliance party Chairman Pavol Rusko from the post of economy minister on August 24 at the request of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda after the scandal around his personal debt became public.

Malchárek is the 12th economy minister since the formation of an independent Slovakia: Ivan Mikloš (acting), Pavol Rusko, Pavol Prokopovič (acting), Robert Nemcsics, Ľubomír Harach, Ľudovít Černák, Milan Cagala, Karol Česnek, Ján Ducký, Peter Magvaši and Jaroslav Kubečka.

Malchárek told the news wires that he wants to complete the ongoing privatization projects transparently, and in a way that is as profitable for the state as possible.

The new economy minister entered national politics after the parliamentary elections in September 1998 when he became MP for the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP). In 2001 he was a co-founder of the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO), and won a seat in parliament as an ANO MP that same year. After Rusko's dismissal and the resulting split in the ANO party, an ANO special congress removed Malchárek and eight fellow members who refused to support Rusko from their functions in the party, and expelled them from ANO.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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