Tatjana Popovski Buloski, Partner at the Polenak Law Firm in Skopje, says the political crisis in Macedonia last year slowed capital movement and M&A transactions. “Everybody in the business community was watching closely what was going on in the political scene,” she reports.
Still, she says that the new government established in June, 2017 has generated positive expectations for this year.
Among other things, hopes are high that Macedonia will finally be able to resolve its long-standing dispute over the country’s name with Greece, Popovski says, which could open the door for it to join both NATO and the European Union. She believes the realization of these longtime goals would have a significant influence on the market. “It would be more secure for investors to come here and invest,” she says. “At least there is a perception that obstacles would be removed.”
On the other hand, she says, while there is an “open call” for investors to invest in Macedonia, frequent changes in the laws (and their implementation) as well as “surprising court decisions” have led to uncertainty and instability, keeping investors from obtaining a “clear picture of the market.”
Indeed, she says, the new government is in the process of issuing still more new policies, though none that are likely to affect the market significantly.
As part of the country’s ongoing fight against corruption, Macedonia is pursuing a spate of criminal cases against former government officials under the auspices of the country’s Special Public Prosecutor’s office. According to Popovski, among those officials being investigated are several allegedly involved in a wiretapping scandal that took place between 2008 and 2015.
A draft law on energy introduced at the end of 2017 constitutes a real step forward, Popovski says, by providing “new solutions … for different types of energy products.” The draft law, which was prepared in line with the EU principles and recommendations from the energy community, would liberalize the nation’s electricity market starting in 2019, she reports.
Turning to the subject of legal services, Popovski suggests that Macedonian lawyers may face certain restraints in their work due to an ongoing conflict between the Notary Bar and the Macedonian Bar Association. The Notary Bar has recently proposed excluding attorneys from participating in certain proceedings in the Notary Act. “I think it is in the best interest of the client to have proper legal advice when entering into transactions or other types of proceeding,” she says, voicing her support for the current system, which she says protects clients by allowing attorneys to assist them.