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Joschka Fischer

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Joschka Fischer
Joschka Fischer

Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer (born April 12, 1948 near Crailsheim) has been the German foreign minister and deputy chancellor in the red-green coalition since 1998. He is a leading figure in the German Green Party and was the party's top candidate in the 2002 election campaign, which saw an increase in votes and seats for the Green Party. According to opinion polls [1] (http://www.tagesthemen.de/aktuell/meldungen/0,1185,OID2020828_TYP6_THE2020794_NAV3332916~1260572~2020794_REF1_BAB,00.html), he was the most popular politician in Germany for most of the red-green coalition government's duration.

Biography

Fischer was born in Gerabronn (Baden-Wrttemberg) as the third child of a butcher, whose family had lived in Hungary for several generations, but had to leave the country in 1946 after Hungary was occupied by Stalin. His name "Joschka" is derived from the Hungarian Jska, diminutive of Joseph (Hungarian Jzsef). Fischer dropped out of high school (Gymnasium) in 1965, and started an apprenticeship as a photographer which he quit in 1966.

In 1967 he became active in the German student movement and left-wing movement (post-) 68 (Spontis), first in Stuttgart but after 1968 in Frankfurt, including participation in protest marches which became violent. His close friendship with Daniel Cohn-Bendit dates from this time. In 1971 he began working for the car manufacturer Opel and attempted to organise his fellow workers. Six months later he was fired because of these political activities. He then made a living with unskilled work while continuing with political activism. He worked as a taxi driver from 1976 to 1981, and later on as a bookshop clerk in the Karl Marx Bookshop in Frankfurt.

In the so-called Deutscher Herbst (German Autumn, fall of 1977), Germany was confronted with a series of leftwing terrorist (terrorism) crimes (Red Army Faction). According to Fischer's own account, witnessing these events, particularly the kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, made him give up violent and radical action. Instead, he engaged in the social movements and later in the newly founded German Green Party, mainly in Hesse.

From 1983 to 1985, Fischer was a member of the German Parliament for the Green party. In 1985 he became minister for the environment in the German state of Hesse in the first state level red-green coalition in Germany ever (1985-1987), his appointment causing an uproar because he wore tennis shoes during his oath of office. These shoes are now on display in the German Historic Museum in Bonn.

He became minister for the environment of Hesse again from 1991 to 1994, and went on to again become a member of the Parliament working as one of the two chairpersons for the Green faction. Fischer became the vice chancellor and foreign minister of Germany in 1998 and was reelected in 2002.

In 1999 Fischer supported the German participation in the Kosovo War. This was an extremely controversial stance within the largely pacifist Green Party, because it meant that, for the first time after the Second World War, German soldiers would actively participate in combat. He justified this war with allegations that the Serbs were planning a genocide on the Kosovo Albanians.

Fischer was also in favor for the stationing of German troops in Afghanistan, but he counseled German chancellor Gerhard Schrder not to join the war in Iraq. He is known as a good friend of the head of the UN, Kofi Annan, and has a reputation for his international experience. Although the first common foreign minister of the EU has yet to be elected, Fischer is considered a strong candidate for this post. Unlike former German foreign ministers, he speaks several languages fluently, and has a good experience with and reputation in the Arab world. He is the now second longest-serving foreign minister in German postwar history (after Hans-Dietrich Genscher).

In 2005, Fischer has been accused by critics of carelessly relaxing controls on visa regulations for Ukraine, thus allowing many illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe to get into the EU, especially Germany, with fake identities. A parliamentary commission (Untersuchungsausschuss) has been established to examine the case, and unlike other such commission hearings, Fischer's statement (and that of other top officials) was shown live on public TV. In what was called a "Marathon session" (Fischer's interview alone took twelve hours), the questions were repeated, and Fischer declined to resign from his post as foreign minister. As of April 27, 2005, a final decision has yet to be made. (See German Visa Affair 2005).

Fischer has an honorary degree (Dr. h.c.) from the University of Haifa.

He has been married four times, to Edeltraud Fischer (1967-1984) in Gretna Green, Inge (1984-1987), Claudia Bohn (1987-1999), and Nicola Leske (1999-2003). All of his marriages ended in divorce.

Popularity and dieting

Missing image
Fischer_und_powell.jpg
Joschka Fischer with Colin Powell

Despite — or maybe because of — his controversial past, he is the most popular German politician, leading the opinion polls for several years (as of 2004) even among supporters of other parties.

This popularity may be attributed to his personal integrity as much as to his political standpoints.

Until 2000, Fischer had been formerly an outspoken connoisseur of good wines and food (regularly betting cases of expensive wine with opposition politicians on the outcome of elections), and had been overweight. Within a relatively short time he managed lose an enormous amount of weight. He claimed that this was due his giving up alcoholic drinks completely and changing his diet. He cashed in on his weight loss by writing the book Mein langer Lauf zu mir selbst ("my long run towards myself") on his experience, which became an immediate bestseller. Recently he has been putting on weight again.

Further reading

Preceded by:
Klaus Kinkel
Foreign Minister of Germany
1998-
Succeeded by:
Incumbent
ar:يوشكا فيشر

de:Joschka Fischer es:Joschka Fischer eo:Joseph Martin FISCHER fr:Joschka Fischer he:יושקה פישר ja:ヨシュカ・フィッシャー nl:Joschka Fischer no:Joschka Fischer nds:Joschka Fischer sv:Joschka Fischer

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