Ilir Gjoni served as chief of staff under Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, being appointed to the position in 1999. When the administration changed that same year, the new prime minister, Ilir Mehta, reconfirmed Gjoni’s appointment. Prime Minister Meta went on to appoint Gjoni as minister of defense in July 2000. Gjoni also became the minister of public order under Meta’s regime, holding the post until February 2002. A philology major in the Tirana University class of 1985, Gjoni’s involvement in the public sector began when he was recruited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon graduation. Leaving the ministry in 1994, Gjoni pursued a master' degree in diplomacy. He then opted to acquire a second degree in national security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monteray, California. Gjoni also spent some time working as an international news editor at the only independent newspaper in Albania at the time, Koha Jone. After his venture into journalism, Gjoni went on to become a liaison officer for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office in Tirana, assisting in the management of both the ’98 and ’99 Kosovo refugee crises until his appointment in the Majko administration.