“This comes as no surprise, but the main focus of the government is still the COVID-19 crisis,“ says Stefan Tzakov, Managing Partner at Kambourov & Partners in Sofia. Although the situation in Bulgaria was not as bad as in some other countries, Tzakov says, it nonetheless “gave the politicians a good chance to show strength — and for the two months that we’ve had a state of emergency in place they have tried to do just that.“
“Ukraine is gradually returning to normal operations,” says Valentyn Gvozdiy, Managing Partner at Golaw in Kyiv, but he admits the preceding period has been difficult. “Most companies had to face many challenges of finding new ways to work in a short time span. Closing of industries and venues, self-isolations and lockdowns, strict bans on business activities, and public events were important measures needed to prevent and fight this virus. However, experienced managers understand the situation and fortunately knew how to cope with the issues that arose with the COVID-19 outbreak.”
“Apart from COVID-19, Poland is struggling with a constitutional crisis involving the Presidential election at the moment,” says Aleksander Stawicki, Senior Partner at WKB Wiercinski, Kwiecinski, Baehr. “Special legislation changed the voting system during the pandemic, in particular the organization of the election process and the way ballots are collected. This issue sparked a lot of controversy."
“The Lithuanian Government has implemented multiple measures to combat the COVID-19 crisis,” says Rokas Bukauskas, Head of PwC Legal in Lithuania. “It all started with postponing tax payments from the companies which were affected the most, then went on to providing compensation to employees and other measures."
“Naturally, nobody in Moldova was prepared for this situation,” says Roger Gladei, Managing Partner of Gladei & Partners in Chisinau. “Still, even though the first reaction of the Government was sporadic, in the end, they were able to put resources together and come up with an articulated response to the crisis."
“The fairly stringent lockdown imposed by the Austrian Government in mid-March resulted in a relatively small number of infections,” says Paul Luiki, Partner at Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners in Vienna. “Apart from being able to get the infection under control, they also introduced a EUR 38 billion package to help the economy recover. Even though room for improvement always exists, given the little time the Government had to act, I think the support package on the whole has worked out just fine.”
“Quite a lot, really —it’s like watching a movie on fast forward,” says Schoenherr Attorney at Law Marko Frantar, from Ljubljana, when asked what’s happening in Slovenia during the COVID-19 epidemic. “As elsewhere, we've been seeing a level of state intervention that is unprecedented in terms of both range and magnitude of measures adopted — all compressed into a period of two months."
“The political situation in Montenegro reflects all the complexities that most Western democracies face at the moment,“ says Vladimir Radonjic, Managing Partner of Radonjic & Associates in Podgorica. “It feels like, in the past few months, since we began battling the crisis, politics has really taken a back seat.“ He says that this may change, though, as the pandemic weakens and a new normal emerges on the horizon.
“I believe that Greece has become an example of how early response to COVID-19 works,“ says Yanos Gramatidis, Partner at Bahas, Gramatidis & Partners. “In particular, Greece’s response helped to stem the crisis of public health and has allowed the Government to undertake a minor digital revolution.”
“To be honest, I think the government handled the crisis as well as possible," says Levente Csengery, Partner at KCG Partners. “The COVID-19 regulations do exactly what they’re supposed to – protect public health and keep us all alive, and they’re working.“ At the time of writing, Hungary has had 3535 confirmed cases (and 460 deaths) from the new coronavirus.
“The Turkish Government acted well and used the experience of other countries to fight the battle with COVID-19,” says Ersin Nazali, Managing Partner of Nazali Tax & Legal in Istanbul. “The situation was well prepared-for, which ultimately led to a lower number of infected people. Soon, we expect to get back to normal life.”
“The government acted well and fast in response to the crisis,“ says Viktor Tokushev, Managing Partner of Tokushev & Partners in Sofia. “The problem is, however, that the majority of the measures it enacted focus mainly on healthcare and the safety of the population, with other sectors lagging behind.“ In addition, he says, while many economic measures have been announced, not many have been actually implemented.
“The current political situation in Kosovo is fragile, since the assembly, in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, dismissed the government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti in a no-confidence vote on March 25, 2020, triggering a huge political crisis in the country,” says Fisnik Salihu, Partner at the RPHS Law Firm in Pristina. The government was dismissed, he says, “mainly after a dispute between coalition partners over whether to declare a state of emergency and the way the dialogue with Serbia should be handled in the future.”
“One of the key questions in Croatia right now is the upcoming parliamentary elections,” begins Mate Lovric, Partner at Lovric Novokmet Smrcek. “They will either occur in July or sometime this fall (although July seems more likely). The current government would prefer them to be earlier, when the memory of successful measures against the COVID-19 crisis is still fresh, while the opposition would like to see them as late as possible, of course.”
“Well, the Parliament was shut down for almost two months,“ says Darija Ognjenovic, Partner at Prica & Partners in Belgrade. “Given that fact, it is clear why there have been no legislative changes of note other than those related directly to the COVID-19 crisis, instituting measures to protect public health and the economy.“
“What’s important to note is that Romania had a bit of political turmoil immediately before the crisis started,“ begins Florian Nitu, Partner at Popovici Nitu Stoic & Asociatii in Bucharest. “The Prime Minister and the President engaged in a political struggle, with the PM backed by the left-wing socialist party coalition in power. Luckily, this conflict was resolved and tensions decreased – just when Covid-19 hit Romania.“ As a result of this decrease, he says, the country was able to tackle the crisis without unnecessary distraction.
“All activities in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the past two months have had to do with the state of emergency caused by the crisis, as they will for the foreseeable future,“ says Dino Aganovic, Head of Legal and Compliance at Heta Asset Resolution in Sarajevo. Nonetheless, he says, as dangerous as the virus is, he believes in being cautious about the steps taken to address it. “I must admit that I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to complete shutdowns,“ he says. “The global economy is sliding into a recession that is bound to impact poorer societies in terrible ways. We need to be thinking about the future as well, not just the present.“
“What we have currently is a technical government,“ says Elena Dimova-Ivanoska, Junior Partner at Cakmakova Advocates, “made up from both the current ruling coalition members and the opposition, and formed to oversee the period leading up to the parliamentary elections which were to take place this April.“ These plans were cut short by the COVID-19 crisis, when the technical government was handed a far more complex task to resolve.