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Merkel vows greater international role for Germany in 2019

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Chancellor Merkel after the recording of her annual New Year's speech
Chancellor Merkel after the recording of her annual New Year's speech -
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Chancellor Angela Merkel will begin this evening's New Year address with an apology to German citizens for the political chaos her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their coalition partners, the Social Democrats, put the country through in 2018.

"Openness, tolerance and respect. These values have made our country strong, we must work together for them."

Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany

But her speech is also directed at a global audience, as she outlines a greater international role for Germany in 2019:

"My guiding belief is that we will only master the challenges of our time if we stick together and collaborate with others across borders," Merkel says in excerpts of the address released on Monday (December 31) morning.

"Certainties of international cooperation are coming under pressure. In such a situation we have to stand up for our convictions more strongly, we have to argue, to fight. In our own interest, we must assume more responsibility."

Starting tomorrow, Germany begins a two-year term on the UN Security Council where Merkel vowed to "work for global solutions." She also committed to making the European Union "more robust and decisive" and said Berlin would maintain close ties with London after the UK leaves the EU in March, if indeed they do.

Domestically, the Chancellor finishes the year with her own political position considerably diminished after she was forced to step down as CDU party leader and promise not to seek re-election at the end of her term in 2021.

Amid the growing success of populist movements in Europe and abroad, Merkel has remained a staunch defender of international cooperation and multilateralism. Her 2015 decision to open Germany's borders to thousands of refugees continues to cost her support at home.

Nonetheless, Merkel reiterated her commitment to her policies and values of openness, tolerance and respect:

"These values have made our country strong, we must work together for them, even if it is uncomfortable and exhausting."

Chancellor Merkel's speech will be broadcast in full on Monday evening.