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Merkel Says NATO, West Must Protect Principle Of Territorial Integrity

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech on the second day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich on February 18.

MUNICH, Germany -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Western states must protect the principle of territorial integrity and NATO needs to strengthen its eastern flank following Russia's interference in Ukraine.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 18, Merkel said that territorial integrity is a crucial foundation of the post-World War II order.

She said there was "great anxiety" about the situation in eastern Ukraine, where a war between Russia-backed separatists and government forces continues nearly three years after it erupted following Moscow's seizure of Crimea.

Those Russian actions "highlighted" the importance of NATO, she said, and made clear it needed to bolster its strength on its eastern flank.

Merkel said she was committed to seeking a political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and supported the 2015 Minsk agreement, and she was "against throwing something out that may still be useful."

She added that she was committed to meeting NATO's goal of each member spending 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

Merkel said she wanted good relations with Russia and believes it is in the common interest of Russia and the West to fight international terrorism.

She also said that Western countries had a "responsibility to bear" in accepting refugees and tackling the root causes leading people to flee their countries.

Merkel called for countries to work together, saying they must do so if they are to be strong.

"Will we be able to act in concert, or will we fall back into parochial policies...? Let us stand together and make the world a better place," she said.

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