“NATO accession and the green-light to opening EU accession talks were strong indicators of political stability in North Macedonia in March this year“ begins Tatjana Shishkovska, Partner at the Polenak Law Firm in Skopje. “But the COVID-19 crisis has made things more complicated.“
Cultivation of medical cannabis has become a lucrative business in recent years. Countries around the world have started legalizing this controversial crop, approving medical cannabis in particular in some capacity. In 2018, Canada made history by passing the Cannabis Act, thus becoming the first industrialized nation in the world (and second overall, after Uruguay) to pass legislation allowing adults to purchase marijuana. In addition, over 33 states in the USA have made the use of cannabis legal for medical purposes.
“What we have currently is a technical government,“ says Elena Dimova-Ivanoska, Junior Partner at Cakmakova Advocates, “made up from both the current ruling coalition members and the opposition, and formed to oversee the period leading up to the parliamentary elections which were to take place this April.“ These plans were cut short by the COVID-19 crisis, when the technical government was handed a far more complex task to resolve.
“The Parliament was disbanded in February and we’re reaching peak election campaign time,“ begins Gjorgji Georgievski, Partner at ODI Law in North Macedonia. “Election day is April 12, and the heat is on.“ Georgievski believes that the election between the ruling Social Democrats and the right-wing opposition VMRO-DPMNE party is going be tight.
If the Western Balkan countries are in your business spotlight, you must have heard about the “Little Schengen” project that was discussed between the governments of Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia, and the signing of the consequent Declaration on Establishment of Free Movement of People, Goods and Services on October 10, 2019 between the leaders of these countries (“Little Schengen Declaration”). Although it may be argued that the “Little Schengen” project comes as an answer to the fact that the “Big Schengen” is still out of the reach for these Balkan countries, closer economic cooperation between the Western Balkan countries is a trend that’s being going on for a while. In particular, four months prior to the signing of the Little Schengen Declaration, North Macedonia and Serbia signed an agreement to establish joint controls at the border crossing point of the road between North Macedonia and Serbia (the “Bilateral Agreement”).
In addition to their traditional role guiding companies through legal and regulatory waters and managing disputes, General Counsels are increasingly called upon to provide input on strategic matters. An expert panel at the second annual Balkan GC Summit considered how this change in the nature of the General Counsel role is manifesting itself in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
“The legal market is pretty stable,” reports Popovski & Partners Partner Tatjana Popovski Buloski. “The traditional concept of running a legal business that’s been present in North Macedonia keeps it like that. Not to toot our own horn, but the formation of our firm – and the discontinuation of my partnership with Polenak – was the biggest shift last year.”
The main characteristics of the Macedonian banking market are its small size and the relatively large number of players. According to the latest reports of the National Bank of North Macedonia, out of fifteen active banks, five have significantly higher market shares than the rest. The combined market share of these five biggest banks is 74.4%, with a significant discrepancy between the bank that owns the largest amount of assets (a market share of 22.7%) and the one with the lowest (a market share of 0.5%).