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Viktor Yushchenko starts his visit to Germany
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko starts his visit to Germany on Tuesday by the invitation of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. According to the department of press and information of the German government, the head of the Ukrainian state will conduct talks with the German Chancellor, German President Horst Keller, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, President of the German parliament (Bundestag) Wolfgang Thierse, leader of the opposition Christian-Democratic Union Angela Merkel, and representatives of business circles. On top of the agenda of the meetings are the situation in Ukraine after the change of government, bilateral ties and Ukrainian position in relation to Euro-Atlantic institutes. Mr. Yushchenko will also have the opportunity to deliver a speech at the Bundestag. The Ukrainian President is expected to announce the decision to abolish visa regime for citizens of the European Union starting in March 2005. Mr. Yushchenko's visit will take place on the background of a serious political scandal in Germany related to unauthorized issuance of visas to East European citizens, primarily Ukrainian citizens. In 2000, German embassies and consulates were allowed to issue visas in "unclear cases," favoring the applicants. As a result, according to the opposition, Germany was overcrowded with natives of East European countries often with criminal background and illegal immigrants. The German Embassy in Ukraine is especially criticized by the opposition. At present, a Bundestag investigative committee is conducting a special investigation of ungrounded visa issuance instances. "I want the Germans to treat the Ukrainians normally and avoid seeing them as illegal workforce," Mr. Yushchenko announced in an interview with German reporters in Kiev.
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