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Germany

Ex-Official to Ukraine Criticizes Visa Policy

One week after the Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's testimony before a special committee investigating the continuing visa scandal, a former ambassador to Ukraine told the committee the one-time visa policy was a "dangerous weak point." Fischer has been under fire for a policy in Ukraine that allowed foreigners easier access to visas for Germany. The result, according to critics, was an influx of criminals, including people traffickers, prostitutes and illegal workers, into Germany. Eberhard Heyken, ambassador in Ukraine from 1996 - 2000, told the parliamentary committee that it "quickly spread around" that visas for Germany were easier to get than for other countries signed up to the Schengen agreement, which allows for free movement across borders. However, the called the conclusion false that the number of visa applications skyrocketed after the more relaxed policy went into effect.

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