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Executive Secretariat

The CEI-Executive Secretariat (CEI-ES) was established in Trieste under the Austrian CEI Presidency in 1996.

It operates with the legal status of an International Organisation, based on a Headquarters Agreement concluded between the Italian Government and the CEI Presidency.

The CEI-ES provides administrative and conceptual support to the CEI pillar system (Governmental, Parliamentary, Economic and Local Dimensions). It also manages its funds and instruments and takes appropriate initiatives aimed at promoting the realisation of the Organisation's mission.

The seat in Trieste, via Genova 9, was made available to the CEI by the Italian Government through the Friuli Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region, free of charge and ties, under terms described in a Protocol concluded between the CEI Secretariat and the Region.

Since its establishment, the CEI-ES was headed by Ambassador Paul Hartig (Austria) from 1996 to 2001; Ambassador Harald Kreid (Austria) from 2002 to 2007; Ambassador Pietro Ercole Ago (Italy) from 2008 to 2009; Ambassador Gerhard Pfanzelter (Austria) from 2010 to 2012. Ambassador Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri (Italy) from 2013 to 2018. As of January 2019 the Secretary General is Mr. Roberto Antonione.

Secretary General, Roberto Antonione

Mr. Roberto Antonione was appointed Secretary General as of January 2019 after having held the post of CEI Chief Operating Officer in 2018 and Special Advisor to the CEI Secretary General since 2015. Having graduated in medicine and surgery at the University of Milan he was in private practice as a dentist until 2001.  

From 2001-2006 he was Senator of the Italian Republic (XIV Legislature), undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Europe and Representative of Italy at the signing of the 2003 Treaty of Rome. He was also awarded full powers for the official signature on behalf of Italy of the EU Accession Treaties of the Republics of Bulgaria and Romania.

From 2006-2008 he was Senator of the Republic (XV Legislature) as well as Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Group and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. From 2008-2013 he acted as Member of the Chamber of Deputies XVI Legislature, Group leader of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of the Parliamentary Delegation to the Council of Europe. He was also elected Head of the Italian Delegation to the Central European Initiative Parliamentary Assembly and acted as President of the International Expert Group for the reform of the CEI (2010).

Deputy Secretary General, Nina Kodelja

Ms. Nina Kodelja started her assignment as CEI Deputy Secretary General on 1 January 2019, coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia.

She has diplomatic experience in various foreign policy areas – in regional policies (former Stability pact for South Eastern Europe), as well as experience of the Slovene accession to the EU. She has dealt with various aspects of EU affairs in general, and has had broad cabinet experience as counsellor of the minister of foreign affairs. She served in Slovene representations abroad, both in bilateral embassies, namely Rome (2005-2011), as well as Madrid (Presidency of Spain of the Council of EU 2002). From 2011 to 2015 she worked for the European External Action Service (EEAS), dealing with foreign policy issues within the EEAS chair/presidency of the Political and Security Committee of the EU.

Before her assignment as CEI Deputy Secretary General, she was heading the Department for General and Institutional EU Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, following key EU institutional issues such as preparation of European Councils, Brexit, negotiations of the next EU's multiannual financial framework etc. Before this experience, from 2015 to 2017, she was Head of the Department for Emerging Challenges and Threats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, following global issues and threats such as climate change, terrorism and radicalisation etc.  

She studied International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Trieste and is a career diplomat.

Deputy Secretary General, Ivana Holoubkova

Ms. Ivana Holoubkova' started her assignement as CEI Deputy Secretary General on 1 May 2022. She holds a doctorate in natural sciences and attended the Clingendael Institute of International Relations.

She entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech and the Slovak Federal Republic in 1992, continuing her career as a deputy in the Embassies of the Czech Republic to Italy and France. From 2007 to 2013 she worked as an Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Jordan, obtaining in 2014 the Diplomatic rank of Ambassador.

In 2015 she took on the position as CEI National Coordinator of the Czech Republic, and as Representative of the Czech Republic in the Operational Board of the EU Regional Trust Fund MADAD in response to the Syrian Crisis and as Diplomatic Counsellor to the Deputy Minister for European Affairs.

Deputy Secretary General, Zsuzsanna Kiraly

Ms. Zsuzsanna Kiraly started her assignement as CEI Deputy Secretary General on 1 May 2022. She studied law at the University of Budapest and started working for a law office. In 2001, she left that position and took a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, working in its Legal Department until 2007. 

Later, she moved to Milan as a Deputy Chief of Mission at the Consulate General of Hungary, responsible for consular affairs and for developing bilateral relations. After 2013, she worked under the State Secretary for Administrative Affairs and as a Deputy Head of the Department of Human Resources.

She led the consular section at the Consulate General of Hungary in New York, being the Deputy Chief of Mission, between 2014 and 2018. From November 2018, she started working under the Deputy State Secretary for the Development of European Relations.

Special advisor to the secretary general, Zoran Jovanovic

Mr. Zoran Jovanovic started his assignment as Special Advisor to the Secretary General in March 2019. Coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, he was Head of the NATO and Partnership for Peace Department.

He had already served the CEI as Deputy Secretary General from 2011 to 2013 and from 2018 to 2021, and between these two mandates he was CEI National Coordinator for Serbia while also acting as Rapporteur for EU Negotiation Chapter 30 (2014-2015). He then acted as Minister Council at the Office of the Foreign Minister (2015-2017). He was also Counsellor and Minister Counsellor in the Department for Neighbouring and SEE Countries from 2007-2009 and 2013-2014 respectively.

During his earlier years he acted as Head of Department for Regional Initiatives (2009-2011); First Secretary for Economic and Consular Affairs, Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Tirana (2003-2007) and First Secretary, Department for Economic Bilateral Relations (2002-2003).

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