Slovakia has new ministers after party leaves coalition

Sep 13, 2022, 5:08 AM | Updated: 5:59 am
FILE - Slovakia's President Zuzana Caputova talks for the media during a news conference with North...

FILE - Slovakia's President Zuzana Caputova talks for the media during a news conference with North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski at the presidential palace in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Caputova swore in on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, new ministers who replaced their predecessors from a junior coalition partner that withdrew from the governing four-party coalition, leaving Prime Minister Eduard Heger without a parliamentary majority. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)

(AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s president on Tuesday swore in new ministers who replaced their predecessors from a junior coalition partner that withdrew from the governing four-party coalition, leaving Prime Minister Eduard Heger without a parliamentary majority.

The appointment came after President Zuzana Caputova accepted the resignation of all four ministers from the liberal Freedom and Solidarity party who resigned from their government posts earlier in September.

They included party leader and Economy Minister Richard Sulik, Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok, Justice Minister Maria Kolikova and Education Minister Branislav Gröhling.

Three of them were replaced by experts not affiliated with any political party.

Energy expert Karel Hirman became the economy minister, career diplomat and former Slovak Ambassador to the United States Rastislav Kacer will serve as foreign minister, while Viliam Karas, the head of the Slovak Bar Association, was appointed the justice minister.

Heger temporarily assumed the education minister post.

“The continuity has been ensured,” Heger said.

The current Slovak government has been donating arms to the Ukrainian armed forces while opening its border to refugees fleeing the war with Russia. That is not expected to change, but without a majority support in Parliament, it might be tough for the government to push through its agenda.

Freedom and Solidarity said it wasn’t willing to stay in the government because of disagreements with Finance Minister Igor Matovic, a populist leader whose Ordinary People party won the 2020 parliamentary election.

Sulik has clashed with Matovic on a number of issues, including how to tackle soaring inflation driven by high energy prices amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or, earlier, how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Slovakia has new ministers after party leaves coalition