For the second time in as many months, a high profile minister has enmeshed himself in a tricky visa scandal. First it was David Blunkett, who came unstuck in the UK having fast-tracked his lover´s nanny´s visa application. This time the scandal´s in Germany, and it´s Joschka Fischer´s turn.
Unlike Blunkett, however, who restricted himself to just the one visa, the German Foreign Minister fast-tracked the visas of millions. Not all of these people - maybe none of them - were his lovers. For he wasn´t deluded, as Blunkett was, by personal love of a woman, but by his blinkered Green Party enthusiasm for economic migrants of all sorts.
And all sorts seems to be precisely what he, and Germany, have got. Despite receiving warnings from all sides that his policy was a disaster in the making, Fischer stuck to it, with the result that the German consulate in Kiev alone - to take just one example - processed nearly a million visas in the 4 years to October 2004. It is a prime example of something noted before, that the Greens have ditched most of their beliefs and principles, but those few which still survive, such as the liberal encouragement of immigration into Germany, can still do untold damage (see Peaceniks and Realpolitik - Germany´s Greens post of 13th January).
The scandal is unlikely to sink Fischer, though. He´s pivotal to the SPD/Green coalition government, and won´t be dispensed with for a mere bagatelle like towering incompetence and putting party dogma before the interests of his country.