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Germany

Embattled Fischer To Give Evidence

Beleaguered German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer will have a chance to explain his role in an immigration scandal when he appears before a parliamentary investigation on April 25, it was agreed on Thursday. Fischer had said he wanted to give evidence as soon as possible to the cross-party committee probing the foreign ministry's decision to relax tourist visa criteria. The decision allegedly allowed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from eastern Europe -- mainly Ukraine -- to abuse the visa system and enter Germany between 2000 and 2003. "It is in my interest to give evidence as soon as possible," Fischer said in Thursday's edition of the top-selling Bild newspaper. It is alleged that the relaxed rules introduced by Fischer's ministry were abused by 'human traffickers' who brought Ukrainians into Germany on tourist visas when in fact most were intending to work in the country or elsewhere in western Europe. Women forced into prostitution, drug dealers, workers seeking illegal employment and even suspected terrorists are alleged to have been among those who entered Germany.

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