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German Chancellor Calls For European Unity as EU Celebrates Its 50th Birthday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged European Union leaders to back reforms aimed at rejuvenating the 50-year-old bloc.

Ms. Merkel Saturday told her fellow EU officials that their citizens have a right to know where the union is heading. She made her remarks to German news media, as European leaders gathered in Berlin for two days of festivities marking the EU's half-century.

On Sunday, Ms. Merkel is to unveil the so-called Berlin Declaration, a statement of European achievements and values that is to point the way ahead for the bloc, after a two-year stalemate.

The German chancellor, whose country is holding the EU's rotating presidency, is making efforts to rekindle a drive for European unity, following the French and Dutch rejection of the bloc's draft constitution in 2005.

Ms. Merkel has urged EU leaders to agree on a reform treaty that would give the union a long-term government and more power to its institutions, avoiding the word "constitution."

France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the Rome Treaty in 1957, establishing the European Economic Community, which is the basis of today's 27-nation European Union.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.