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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 15:52 GMT
Merkel in child protection plea
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel
Chancellor Merkel said the state had to intervene in some cases
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged the nation to pay more attention to the needs of children at risk of neglect or abuse.

In her New Year message, Mrs Merkel said "we need a culture of closer inspection, not of looking away".

German police recently uncovered a huge, internet-based network distributing images of child sex abuse. Germans were also shocked in December by two separate cases involving the killing of eight young children.

"We all think with horror of the news of child abuse, neglect and deaths... In cases where parents clearly cannot cope with the raising of their children, the state must intervene," Mrs Merkel said.

German media quoted parts of her speech on Monday, ahead of a broadcast on national television.

Mrs Merkel called for more preventive checks and wider scope for family courts to make decisions on child custody.

Drive for more jobs

On the economy, she warned that Germany's figure of 3.5 million unemployed was still too high.

But she said Germany had taken a "good step forward" in creating more jobs. "A million fewer unemployed, a million gainfully employed - who could have thought such a development possible two years ago?" she said.

She said global economic risks meant Germany "must on no account relax". She reiterated her goal of maintaining existing jobs and creating new ones.

The BBC's Berlin correspondent Steve Rosenberg says Chancellor Merkel outshone other EU leaders internationally in 2007.

Germany's presidency of the EU and G8 in the first half of the year put her in the international spotlight, he says.

But she cannot afford to be complacent, as cracks are showing in the coalition government between her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Social Democrat (SPD) partners, our correspondent says.

Country profile: Germany
18 Sep 07 |  Country profiles
Merkel tops 'powerful women' list
30 Aug 07 |  Business

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