Biljana Joanidis, the Managing Partner of the Law Firm Joanidis in Macedonia, is hesitantly encouraged by recent developments in her country — many of which, in her opinion, can be tracked back to the election at the end of May, by slim majority in Parliament, of a government led by Zoran Zaev of the center-left Social Democrats.
“In Macedonia there’s a new government elected, and things are getting better for the country and for everyone — for the legal system.” According to Joanidis, “we had been a few months without government which was bad for everyone, for the economy, etc. Nothing was working at all. So new government, made up from the opposing political party, is a good sign.”
“The new government should be good for the economy and foreign investment,” Joanidis says. “It’s early, of course, but I think this political party is oriented towards NATO and integration to the EU, which should solve many problems. It takes time, but I think things are moving forward."
Joanidis says that, the trials of former officials from the previous government based on accusations of corruption and fraud arising from recorded phone calls, is also providing significant amounts of work for criminal lawyers in the country, including her firm.
Otherwise there’s not much happening in Macedonia at the moment — particularly in the court system, by and large dormant due to the annual so-called “Comfort Holiday” from July 15-August 15. Even before they went on holiday, Joanidis says, "there were good signs from the court, in the form of good decisions which I had not expected based on previous experience.” In Joanidis’ opinion, this change can also be tracked back, in part, to the elections. Ultimately, she says, "this change has affected everyone, maybe, including the courts. Influenced everyone. Even the stock market in Macedonia is up. That’s a good sign. Maybe because of the change of the government and the prospect of joining NATO soon. It will be good for everyone.”
On the subject of legislation, Joanidis says there’s nothing particularly significant planned for upcoming months — a welcome change after multiple changes in recent years.
Finally, she’s asked if she’s optimistic. “Yes, yes,” she says, laughing. "Last time we spoke [in September 2016] I was not so optimistic, but I think things are getting better and better.”