Chancellor Merkel highlighted the importance of the euro in her New Year's speech, saying the single currency was at the heart of Germany's prosperity. She also said Germany had emerged stronger from the economic crisis.
The chancellor addresses the country each New Year's Eve
Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her annual New Year's Eve address to the nation by looking back to her speech from one year ago, when Germany faced an uncertain year ahead.
"Let me be completely open," she said as she started her address. "A year ago, when I sat before you and delivered this speech, I looked to the future confidently but with mixed feelings, because our country was in the middle of a financial and economic crisis."
As 2010 comes to a close, however, Merkel struck a much more confident tone, patting Germans on the back for helping pull the country out of the economic doldrums.
"Germany mastered the crisis like almost no other country," she said. "We even emerged from the crisis strengthened."
"Never have more people had work in reunified Germany than today. The number of unemployed is the lowest in almost 20 years," the chancellor said.
"We have come out of the crisis stronger. And that is, above all, thanks to you, my fellow citizens."
Euro 'intertwined' with Germany
While Germany leads the way economically among European nations, other countries are still struggling, which has led to widespread unemployment and fears about the eurozone's shared currency.
The euro is important for Germany and Europe, Merkel said
However, Merkel defended the euro in her speech, saying it was intertwined with Germany's "well-being."
"Europe is currently facing a big test. We have to strengthen the euro. It is not just about our money. The euro is much more than a currency," Merkel said.
"Fortunately, we Europeans are unified. A united Europe is the guarantor for our peace and freedom. The euro forms the foundation of our prosperity," she said.
"Germany needs Europe and our common currency, for our own well-being and also in order to overcome big challenges worldwide."
Job well done
Merkel drew a comparison between the hard work displayed by Germans to pull themselves out of the economic crisis with the country's national soccer team, which took third place at the World Cup in South Africa.
Germans rallied around the national team during the World Cup
"Our national soccer team wonderfully demonstrated precisely those virtues that make us strong: diligence and discipline, imagination and technical quality of the highest standard."
The chancellor looked ahead to the summer of 2011, when Germany is to play host to the 2011 women's World Cup. The host nation is seen as a strong title contender, which Merkel referenced in her speech.
"When the women's World Cup takes place in Germany next year, our team will be hoping to win its third title," she said. "With our support, they can certainly do it, and I'm looking forward to the opening game in Berlin."
Soldiers not forgotten
Germany's armed forces received a lot of attention in 2010, both for the debate about ending Germany's long-standing policy of conscription and the Bundeswehr's role as part of NATO's engagement in Afghanistan.
The chancellor paid her respects to the nine German soldiers who died this year in Afghanistan.
"Even though no words from me can ease the pain felt by the families and friends of those who have fallen, I want to say from the bottom of my heart: they will not be forgotten," Merkel said.
Merkel wrapped up her speech by looking forward to the year ahead, calling on Germans to live in solidarity - "from person to person." Germany should not strive to "have more" but to "live better," Merkel said, which serves to foster togetherness and well-being in the country.
Quoting philosopher Karl Popper, Merkel said: "The future is wide open. It is dependent on us - all of us." To that Merkel added, "In this sense, let us look ahead to the next year with ideas, curiosity, and passion for the solutions to new challenges."
Author: Darren Mara, Matt Zuvela (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold