“Politics are always challenging, in both Belarus and around the world, especially given the current state of affairs,” says Ulyana Kavalionak, Partner at BNT Attorneys in Minsk. According to Kavalionak, “even though the situation was more or less the same as everywhere else, the response of the Belarusian Government was not. We never had quarantine, and people were free to choose for themselves how they were going to tackle the pandemic.”
“Overall, Estonia is doing great as a democracy, with a solid rule of law and dedication to the EU and international cooperation,” says Kaupo Lepasepp, Partner at Sorainen in Tallin. “To be fair, we have seen a slight turn towards conservatism, even though not a harsh one. One of the members of the ruling coalition is close to right-wing politics, so he is dictating a right-wing tone to the coalition as a whole.”
“The measures taken by the Czech Republic’s government during the pandemic were good and quick, but the discipline people have shown helped with the situation as well,” says Jan Spacil, Managing Partner at Deloitte Legal in Prague. “Various other countries that didn’t work as quickly later had to impose much stricter measures.”
“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.”