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Merkel Says Europe In Toughest Times Since World War Two

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel says the eurozone debt crisis represents Europe's "toughest hour since World War Two."

Merkel, addressing delegates at the annual conference of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the eastern German city of Leipzig on November 13, also maintained that Europe must move "step by step" toward greater political integration.

"We need to further develop the European Union's structure," she said. "This does not mean less Europe, it means more Europe. It means building Europe in a way for the euro to have a future."

Merkel also called for changes in European treaties to punish nations that break rules against deficits, but also made it clear that Germany had a responsibility toward its partners and will have to make more sacrifices.

The debt crisis which saw Greece, Ireland and Portugal in need of bailouts has raised doubts about the survival of the 17-nation currency union. Many in Germany oppose using taxpayers' money to rescue weak eurozone partners.

compiled from agency reports