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The Buzz in Albania: Interview with Jola Gjuzi of Kalo & Associates

The Buzz in Albania: Interview with Jola Gjuzi of Kalo & Associates

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“The pandemic situation is overrun with both uncertainty and challenges, but also opportunities,” says Jola Gjuzi, Partner at Kalo & Associates in Tirana. “I believe that the situation is the same for the Albanian Government as is it for businesses in the country.”

Gjuzi reports that, because of the coronavirus, “some measures have been taken which affect the way we communicate.” In many situations virtual communication is proving efficient and could well redefine social interaction even in the long-term. Still, she says, “for key business matters, virtual meetings remains just an imposed substitute of face-to-face interaction.”

Gjuzi notes that many companies in Albania have, in the months since the pandemic first hit, been forced to slow down and even recalibrate their portfolios. Her own industry suffered as well, she says. “In terms of law firms, the workflow was significantly reduced, especially in litigation, and, to a certain degree, arbitration. On the other hand, many companies unable to perform contracts required swift legal advice aiming to save their deals.”

Gjuzi says that, with the lifting of the restrictive measures, Governmental projects that had been put on hold have now resumed. According to her, “the bidding procedure for the award of a 140-megawatt solar power project restarted and now the Government is negotiating the concession contract with the winner. Other concession projects are being launched, such as the construction of a motorway in the Adriatic-Ionian corridor, a 400 MW hydropower plant upstream Drin River, and a new international airport in southern Albania," and she says, “all of this is a sign of hope for the future.” On the other hand, although she thinks that Governmental projects are a good thing, she reports that they are often seen as a “marketing scheme put in place to attract voters for the upcoming election.” Ultimately, she says, “true or not, some businesses and laws firms will benefit from them.”

“Meanwhile," she says, "some companies are considering claiming damages from the Government for losses suffered while the restrictive measures were in place. Yet, those efforts seem to be quite theoretical. The Constitutional Court and Supreme Court are still inoperative - an undesired effect of the ongoing judicial reform mostly centered around looking into judges and their property.” All of this is part of the country’s attempt to satisfy EU demands. “Albania is now going through a good development period with the EU, even though that is a long process.”

“At the end of the day, uncertainty in terms of what will happen is the greatest problem,” she says. "We don’t know a lot, but in the long run, I think there will be new opportunities in the way we do business and the way we work.”

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