WARSAW — Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico appointed Lt. Gen. Peter Gajdos to serve as the country's new defense minister. The general is a candidate of the right-wing Slovak National Party (SNS), which is the coalition partner of the prime minister's left-wing SMER party.

Meanwhile, local opposition daily Denník N reports that Gajdos has acquired a reputation of a decision-maker with pro-Russian leanings during his term at the General Staff.

Gajdos had served as the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Slovak Armed Forces. In the late 1990s, he collaborated with Jan Sitek, a politician of the SNS party who served as Slovakia's Defense Minister from 1994 to 1998. The SNS, which served as a coalition partner in the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, opposed Slovakia's accession to NATO. Despite this, the country joined the alliance in 2004.

The general is a graduate of the Moscow-based M.V. Frunze Military Academy, but, following the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, he pursued further studies in the Netherlands and the UK.

The cabinet reshuffle follows the March 5 parliamentary election. The country's new parliament has its first session on March 23. The resignation of Fico's government paves the way for the approval of his new cabinet by the parliament.