Who are the ministers of the Serbian President’s “war government”?
After a record-breaking wait for the new government, the public in Serbia found out who will (most likely) hold ministerial positions. The composition of the new Government was not announced by future Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, but by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić at the weekend session of his party’s presidency, which signals another mandate without real power. This thesis is supported by the statement of the very President of the State who personally negotiated with all the ministerial candidates. So far, Zorana Mihajlović, Aleksandar Vulin, and Nebojša Stefanović have not been chosen among those called the new ‘war government’, as the progressive Vladimir Đukanović named it (‘because God help us, what awaits us’). At first glance, it appears that both the pro-Russian and pro-American edges of the executive branch’s image are losing their sharpness. Nevertheless, the simulation of a neutral team is very clearly disrupted by names like Danica Grujičić, Ivica Dačić, Rade Basta… There are no surprises in the selection, although two ‘slots’ still remain open. In one pot, we have again conspiracy theorists, actors of financial and corruption affairs, culprits of the nineties.
Who are actually the candidates for ministers in the new government, led by Ana Brnabić?
The new government will have 25 ministries.
„This is the first time we have formed a government under war circumstances, when you see that there is no end to this conflict in sight. I am counting on our wisdom, our commitment, and from what the SNS proposes, 55 percent of our quota is women, I believe in their wisdom and composure”, said Aleksandar Vučić after the session of the Main Board of the SNS. (Source: Danas) He stated that „it was he who had spoken personally with all the candidates in the future government”.
It is yet to be discovered who will be the Minister of Information and Telecommunications and the Minister of Public Investment.
PM Ana Brnabić
At the end of June 2017, Ana Brnabić became the first woman to head the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and this will be her third mandate. She joined the Government in 2016 as a non-partisan person in the position of Minister for State Administration and Local Self-Government. Before stepping into the ministerial affairs, the then-PM’designate and the current head of the State Aleksandar Vučić said that he knew that she was a homosexual, but that he did not care about her personal orientation, only the results of her work. (Source: Istinomer)
You can read her biography here.
Ivica Dačić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
„Will the SPS be in the government and what position will Ivica Dačić hold?”- is an evergreen question that we have been hearing for years during the mandate maths. A prominent figure from the nineties, almost all the time in power since Milošević’s times. „He has been in power the longest of all politicians, but he has actually never been a ruler. Those who like him claim that he is a gentleman, those who do not like him mostly poke fun at him.” He is recognised by the public as a Russia-loving man, but his politics are very – flexible. As PM, he signed the Brussels Agreement in 2013. You can read his biography here.
Miloš Vučević, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence
The long-time mayor of Novi Sad, a lawyer, mentioned in the public several times as a potential PM; Vučić’s ‘man of trust’. (His biography)
Siniša Mali, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
From Vučić’s advisor in 2012, Siniša Mali quickly became the key negotiator with investors from the United Arab Emirates who in those days pompously announced millions of investments in construction, agriculture, and the aviation industry. Involved in a series of affairs – demolition in Savamala, plagiarised doctorate, property including 24 apartments in Bulgaria… More about all this, in his biography.
Danica Grujičić, Minister of Health
The appointment of Dr. Danica Grujičić, neurosurgeon and director of the Institute of Oncology and Radiology, as Minister of Health comes as no surprise, given that in the last parliamentary elections she was first on the electoral list of the Serbian Progressive Party and its main trump card in the campaign. She believes that a chemical and nuclear war was waged during the NATO bombing, that ecocide was committed, and claims that the increased number of malignancies is a direct consequence of the bombing. She is known for her controversial statements such as the one that Covid-19 is “a specific kind of biological war waged against the Chinese”, and that doctors who died during the pandemic did not die from covid. Here you can read more about the new minister.
Nikola Selaković, Minister of Labour, Employment and Veteran Affairs
He is leaving the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs to join the new ministry. At the end of his technical mandate as head of diplomacy, with the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, he signed, at the end of September, the Plan for consultations between the ministries of the two countries in the next two years, and thus poked a new ‘finger in the eye’ of the West, which is asking Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia. This high-ranking SNS official was previously appointed as Minister of Justice twice – in 2012 and 2014. You can read his complete biography here.
Bratislav Gašić, Minister of Interior
The former director of the Security Information Agency (BIA), Bratislav Gašić succeeded Aleksandar Vulin at this position. (The media speculate that Vulin could be the new director of the BIA). Before that, he was the Minister of Defence, and he was removed from that position after less than two years in office, in February 2016, due to a sexist comment directed towards a female journalist. He was labelled as one of those responsible for the crash of a military helicopter in March 2015 that killed seven people. You can read more in his biography here.
Tanja Miščević, Minister of European Integration
She is an expert in the areas of the European Union and a full professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences (FPN). From September 2013 to September 2019, she was the head of the government’s Negotiation Team for conducting negotiations on Serbia’s accession to the European Union. From 2005 to 2008, she was the director of the Office for European Integration of the Government of Serbia. She was also a member of the Serbian Government’s negotiating team for the negotiations on the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, as well as the head of the Government’s negotiating team for the conclusion of the Visa Facilitation Agreement and the Readmission Agreement between Serbia and the EU. More about her in her biography.
Tomislav Momirović, Minister of Internal and External Trade
As the heir to the family business, before becoming the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure in 2020, he stood out in public with controversial tweets, supporting President Vučić. Read more about his career path here.
Jelena Tanasković, Minister of Agriculture
She was the state secretary of the Ministry of Finance, a close associate of Minister Siniša Mali, and after that she worked in the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Irena Vujović, Minister of Environmental Protection
After the 2012 and 2014 elections, she was elected MP in the Serbian Parliament. Then, after the 2014 elections, the mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, appointed her as the mayor’s assistant in charge of social activities. In the elections for councillors of the Belgrade City Assembly in March 2018, she was on the list of candidates of the Serbian Progressive Party. She was mentioned as a favourite candidate of progressives for the future mayor of Belgrade, next to Goran Vesić. In the previous Government, she was also the head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. (Biography)
Goran Vesić, Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure
„A man of duty who is quite useful for the party and performs unpopular dirty jobs, which he later charges through various functions”. (Source: Istinomer) He has been in politics for decades, a former member of the Democratic Party. In recent years – Deputy Mayor of Belgrade. More about his biography here.
Dubravka Đedović Nègre, Minister of Mining and Energy
Graduated in banking and finance at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, and obtained master’s degree in finance and management at SDA Bocconi University in Milan and Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles. Before her career at the European Investment Bank (EIB), she worked as a TV producer for CNN International, covering conflicts, including the war in Afghanistan. In December 2021, she became a member of the Executive Board of Komercijalna banka in charge of business affairs and investment banking. You can read her biography here.
Aleksandar Martinović, Minister of State Administration and Local Self-Government
A former radical, he has been a member of Parliament five times so far. In the last convocation of the National Assembly, he led the parliamentary group of progressives. He often had the floor, targeted journalists, political opponents and presenting an „alternative history filled with spins, untruths and relativisations.” (His biography)
Tomislav Žigmanov, Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue
One of the new faces in the Government. He has been the director of the Institute for the Culture of Vojvodina Croatians since 2009. In October 2015, he was elected president of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina, as the only candidate for that position. Read more about him here.
Maja Popović, Minister of Justice
At the age of 26, she was appointed judge of the First Municipal Court in Belgrade, “as the youngest judge ever elected in our country’. In October 2014, she was employed at the Security Intelligence Agency (BIA). Read more about her here.
Branko Ružić, Minister of Education
Branko Ružić, an official of the Socialist Party of Serbia, began his extremely dynamic political career in 1996, when he became a member of the SPS, and in March 2000 he was elected president of the Young Socialists of Serbia. „From defending Milošević and attacking the Hague Tribunal, to supporting Gay Pride and maintaining a state of latent conflict with Aleksandar Vučić and his SNS, it seems that Ružić had a successful tactic to politically capitalise on the ability to frequently revise his attitudes.” His biography.
Rade Basta, Minister of Economy
„Incidentally, Basta is a long-time associate of the former deputy mayor of Belgrade, Goran Vesić, by profession he is a professor of physical education, a former policeman and a kick-boxer.” In September 2018, he was appointed acting director of ‘Belgrade Power Plants’. In May 2022, he requested the abolition of the Russian- Serbian Humanitarian Centre for Emergency Situations in Niš.
You can read more about him here.
Đorđe Milićević, Minister without Portfolio
Member of the Socialist Party of Serbia since 1996. Member of the Parliament of Serbia since June 2008. (More about him, in his biography)
Novica Tončev, Minister without Portfolio
Whenever the country needs to be stabbed in the back, Novica Tončev will do it, said Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in July 2020, and a few months later Tončev is a candidate for minister in the Government of Serbia. But without a portfolio in this Government. In mid-2014, news appeared in the media that Tončev had not actually defended his doctoral dissertation, although his official biography on the website of the National Assembly stated that he had a ‘PhD in civil engineering’. You can read more in his biography.
Jelena Begović, Minister of Science, Innovation and Technological Development
She has been the director of the Institute for Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering. Although she has a long scientific career in the field of molecular biology, Begović became known to the general public only after she was on the electoral list of the Serbian Progressive Party in the parliamentary elections in April this year. She did not engage in politics until, as she stated, the SNS made her an offer she could not refuse, so she accepted in the ‘name of science and education’.
You can read her complete biography here.
Darija Kisić, Minister of Family Welfare
Dr. Kisić comes to the new ministry from the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, where she has held office since October 2020. She was a member of the Crisis Response Team of the Government of Serbia for the fight against the pandemic, and her name came to the centre of the affair in May 2020. when BIRN Serbia published that companies close to Bojan Kisić, Minister Darija Kisić’s brother, signed 27 contracts with public companies and ministries.
You can read more about her here.
Husein Memić, Minister of Tourism and Youth
The head of the new ministry is Husein Memić and comes from the Sandžak Democratic Party (SDP) of Rasim Ljajić, which participated in the last elections together with the Serbian Progressive Party. Although there is no information available about his education, on the list of candidates for the elections for members of the National Council of the Bosniak National Minority, he stated that he is a ‘director of an institution’. Since 2016, he has been the director of the Cultural Centre in Novi Pazar. You can read more about him here.
Zoran Gajić, Minister of Sport
He is a legendary volleyball player and president of the Volleyball Association of Serbia. Before the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections, Gajić supported Aleksandar Vučić. Asked if he had a dilemma whether to accept the ministerial position, he replied: „… if the incumbent party and a President who has such a personality call you, if they show you such trust, which is also a huge obligation, then there is not a lot of thinking”. You can read more about his career so far here.
Maja Gojković, Minister of Culture
This will be Maja Gojković’s second mandate as Minister of Culture. The first association with the name of this high-ranking official of the Serbian Progressive Party and former president of the Assembly of Serbia is turncoating. Although she once said that it was a mere urban legend, Istinomer established that before joining SNS in December 2012, she was in four different political parties. Read her biography here.
Milan Krkobabić, Minister of Rural Welfare
Milan Krkobabić is also a new-old minister, since he remains at the head of the same ministry he took over in October 2020. Before that, he was one of the ministers without a portfolio in Ana Brnabić’s cabinet. Apart from the fact that, as the president of the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia (PUPS), he has been a part of every government for years, his name is also associated with nepotism in politics. The Anti-Corruption Agency required his dismissal because, as a member of the Government, he participated in making the decision that his son Stefan be appointed acting director of the public company ‘Stara Planina’ in 2019, without notifying the Agency of the conflict of interest. Read his biography here.