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Germany

Former Diplomats Turn Against Fischer

Several ex-diplomats in Germany have struck out against their former boss Joschka Fischer for his role in the visa scandal. The attacks may mean another nail in the foreign minister's political coffin.

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Was Joschka Fischer really kept in the dark?

Joschka Fischer was once considered a major trump card for German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. But the Green foreign minister now appears to be a mere king-sized headache for the government coalition of Social Democrats and Greens.

Fischer's responsibility in the introduction of more lax visa-issuing regulations at the turn of the century can no longer be swept under the carpet. These are believed to have directly aided massive human trafficking operations in eastern Europe and Ukraine in particular, bringing tens of thousands of illegal workers and prostitutes into Germany between 2000 and 2003.

A parliamentary inquiry has started digging out unpleasant facts. Now, even former diplomats are speaking out against Fischer, as they fear the further tainting of the Foreign Ministry’s international reputation.

Fischer "ignored" advice

While representatives of the parliamentary inquiry into the affair are still battling over when to summon the minister before the panel, former diplomats have vented their anger over Fischer’s policy in the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.

Auswärtiges Amt

Former diplomats fear that the Foreign Ministry's reputation has been severely damaged

The former ambassador to Iran, Russia and India, Hans-Georg Wieck said the reputation of the Foreign Ministry was gravely damaged at home and abroad. He accused Fischer of having ignored the good advice of diplomats and acted without consulting those "on the frontline."

Wieck said one had to question just how long Germany would be willing to tolerate such behavior without hindering the foreign office’s ability to act reliably.

Catastrophic repercussions

The Fischer affair, Wieck concluded, meant a loss of confidence in German foreign policy. This was a point of view shared by the government commissioner for ethnic Germans Heinz-Peter Kemper, who is also a former intelligence officer and interior affairs spokesman.

Anstehen nach Visa am Konsulat in Kiew

Hundreds of people lined up in front of the German embassy in Kiew to get a visa

"I simply have to say that we’ve never been too happy about the 1999 visa decree and the way it was put into practice," said Kemper.

"We certainly want to know who comes to visit us and what they’re up to," he added. "And the Fischer decree wasn’t particularly helpful in this regard, to say the least."

Germany’s former ambassador to the Czech Republic, Hagen Graf Lambsdorff, spoke of "catastrophic repercussions" that Fischer’s lax visa regulations are having.

As seldom as vegetarian crocodiles

A week ago, another former high-ranking diplomat, Ernst von Studnitz, called Fischer’s visa policy "a pitiful attempt" to turn Green ideology into practical policy on a daily basis.

Bundesaußenminister Joschka Fischer (Grüne) äußert sich am Samstag (26.02.2005) in Köln vor den Delegierten des Landesparteitages der Grünen in Nordrhein-Westfalen zur Visa-Affäre

Joschka Fischer faces a tough battle

With former diplomats revolting against the foreign minister, Fischer (photo) faces a hard time preparing for the inquiry. The opposition conservatives are demanding that the minister show up before the panel prior to crucial regional elections in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia on May 22.

They are already considering legal moves to drag Fischer to the hearing. But the latter is playing for time. He’ll also have to defuse accusations by prosecutors that his ministry dragged its feet on handing over documents for a crucial trial and prevented a key witness from appearing in court in time.

The diplomats' attacks are said to be unique in the history of German diplomacy. As one German newspaper commentator put it: "Rebellious diplomats are as seldom as vegetarian crocodiles."

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