“The most important news right now in Moldova relates to the results of the recent presidential elections,” says Cobzac & Partners Managing Partner Daniel Cobzac, from Chisinau, referring to the November 15 victory of former World Bank economist Maia Sandu over incumbent Igor Dodon, the leader of the pro-Russian “Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova,” which holds a parliamentary majority.
"The Croatian government is a bit under fire right now for not implementing stricter measures to deal with the uptick in Covid cases,” reports Kallay & Partners Partner Mara Terihaj Macura. Still, she concedes it’s a difficult problem. “There are still businesses that are open and operating despite the numbers being higher now than they were in the spring – but according to the economic experts another lockdown would be disastrous for the economy, so it’s difficult to find the balance.”
The political situation in Belarus at the moment is “quite challenging,” says Darya Zhuk, the Managing Partner of Cobalt’s Minsk office, referring to the fallout from the August 9 presidential election. “People have been protesting in the streets since the election,” she says, and discontent about the results of that election are being felt “deep inside every sphere of society.”
As it is in many other countries, the reemergence of Covid is the dominant issue in Slovenia. “With restrictive measures on movement and businesses back in place, everybody is trying to just make it through the whole thing,” says Kavcic, Bracun, & Partners Partner Aleksandra Mitic. “Everything else has taken a backseat – all the politicizing and bickering have faded into the background.”
Ukraine local elections, held on October 25, 2020, resulted in a setback for the country’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose party did not secure a single mayoral position in any of the major cities. This did not surprise Dmytro Fedoruk, Partner at Redcliffe Partners in Kyiv, who notes that Zelensky “was not elected for his experience, but rather for his good intentions.”
“As much as we don’t want to deal mess with politics – it seems to be messing with us,” says Milena Roncevic Pejovic, Partner and Head of the Montenegrin practice at Karanovic & Partners. “Montenegro is waiting for the new government to form, and until that happens, everything is on hold, more or less.”
“Covid has really sucked all of the air out of everything,” begins Vernon David Partner Charles Vernon. “From a legislative point of view things are a bit boring right now,given the imminent parliamentary elections that are due on December 6, everything has been pretty much at a standstill, except for Covid of course.”
The two major issues in Poland at the moment, according to Agnieszka Pytlas, Managing Partner of Penteris in Warsaw, are the lockdown necessitated by the second wave of the Covid-19 crisis and the ongoing protests against a ruling by the country’s top court in October that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion.
The political landscape in the Czech Republic might soon see a change, Schoenherr Partner Vladimir Cizek says, as “the recent regional elections shook the position of the leading party.” Still, he doesn't expect it to have much impact on foreign investment. He notes that previous political changes have not dissuaded investors from coming to the country, and their stream has been constant for decades.
“Over the course of the past three months, Bulgaria has been in proper political turmoil,” reports Georgi Tzvetkov, Partner at Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov. “The protests in the streets against the government and the Chief Prosecutor have been going on for almost 90 days – an unprecedented sight in Bulgaria.” According to him, the tensions between the Prime Minister and the President are “like nothing we’ve seen before.”
“Things are, right now, Covid-driven again, really,” begins Partner Marc Lager, the head of the EU Competition Law and Global Trade practice in the Vienna office of Deloitte Legal. “The numbers have been going up a bit lately, as in other parts of Europe, and there have been talks of reintroducing some of the measures that were in place earlier in the year.”
According to Valts Nerets, Partner at Sorainen in Latvia, recent municipal elections have resulted in a political change in the Latvian capital of Riga, while, on the national level, the Latvian legislature and government are trying to create a business-conducive environment, which has attracted new companies to the market, mainly from Belarus.
Like many countries in the region, 2020 in North Macedonia’s was an election year, and the recent formation of its new government, according to CMS Partner Marija Filipovska, “hopefully heralds a bit more stable of a period to come.” According to her, “the newly elected government is strongly pro-EU and is also very vocal in favoring Western investment” which she believes could “create a stable environment in which FDI can flow stronger if (the government) is doing their job.”
According to Andrej Kirm, the Managing Partner of Ljubljana’s Kirm Perpar law firm, things are going pretty well in Slovenia. “It’s pretty much business as usual, apart from the Covid-19 crisis,” he says. Indeed, he says, while most larger transactions were put on hold from March to June, “now a lot of things are progressing, and we hope this will continue through the end of the year.” According to him, “we are quite optimistic, and business is surviving better than we expected back in March.
Despite some political and legal debates between Hungary and the European Union, Baker McKenzie Partner Marton Horanyi, who also co-heads the firm’s Antitrust and Competition practice group in Hungary, says, “not much out of the ordinary” is going on, politically. “In fact, investors in Hungary appreciate that things have been rather stable now for the past few years.”
The conflict in the east of the country that began in 2014 is not the only thing plaguing Ukraine. After the fall of the pro-Russian regime in the wake of the Euromaidan revolution, the independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine was established to tackle the issue of corruption in the country.