German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany can function best in the context of the European Union. Her remarks come amid uncertainty in Franco-German relations, as a new French president prepares to take the helm.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday reaffirmed her belief in the benefits of the European Union, saying that Germany needed it in order to make real progress.
"There are 80 million people in Germany; we're the biggest country [in the EU]," Merkel said in her weekly podcast.
"But if we want to achieve something in the wider world, we need more than just us. That is why the EU, with its 500 million residents, is simply a very, very good thing."
Merkel also said the EU was strong enough to overcome the problems facing it, and that it was strengthened by its common values, such as a belief in democracy and the freedom of movement, speech and religion.
Speaking of Franco-German ties, seen as key to the unity of the 27-nation bloc, Merkel said she was confident of being able to establish a stable relationship with French president-elect Francois Hollande.
"A good French-German relationship is simply very important - for both countries," she said.
Her remarks came as German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned that Hollande should respect the EU's new fiscal pact. Hollande pledged to renegotiate the pact in his election campaign, provoking criticism from Berlin, which insists that the pact cannot be re-opened.
Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann has also warned Hollande not to tamper with the European Central Bank or the fiscal pact
Weidmann told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "It is clear that (any renegotiation) must be refused."
"There is a European custom that you keep to accords you have signed," he added.
The new French president is expected to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday directly after his inauguration on what would be his first official trip abroad. Merkel had openly supported his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.
A chancellery spokesman said the two leaders were expected to discuss the eurozone crisis and bilateral relations.
tj/ccp (AFP, dpa)