Before taking off for the G8 summit in France, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the world's leading nations to bolster emerging Arab democracy. She also pledged Berlin would take a leading role in nuclear safety.
As leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrial nations began gathering in Deauville, north-western France, for a two-day summit, Merkel gave an address to the German parliament pledging her government's support for the democracy movements in northern Africa and the Arab world.
Merkel told the Bundestag it was "self-evident" that Germany would help advance the democratic process in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, where people have "risked their lives for the acquisition of democracy and freedom."
She said she would urge G8 leaders to help "ensure that the initial political progress is not endangered by economic instability," suggesting that regional development banks such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could help with the transition to democracy.
Germany has already pledged 30 million euros ($42 million) this year to support democratic change, and plans to make a further 100 million euros available in the coming years, Merkel added.
The chancellor also condemned the repression in Libya and Syria, where "leaders are using raw violence against their own people as a last means to stay in power," and said the situation needed to be resolved immediately.
G8 leaders are set to discuss the situation in Libya and the region's push for democracy at a dinner in Deauville on Wednesday.
Beacon for energy policy
Merkel also used her address to call for increased nuclear security in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown, which was caused by an earthquake off Japan's Pacific coast in March.
"Security standards have to be tested on the international level," Merkel said, after EU watchdogs announced on Tuesday that so-called nuclear "stress tests" would be implemented across Europe by December.
Merkel also said Germany would continue its push towards renewable energy production to meet international climate change goals - and to build on progress made at last December's UN climate change summit in Cancun.
"We are going forward so that others can follow our example," she said.
Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Nicole Goebel
Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has started medical treatment in Germany. She suffers from a chronic back ailment linked to injuries she sustained while in prison on controversial corruption charges.
Russian and Ukrainian representatives have met for the first face-to-face talks since the onset of the Crimean crisis. Meanwhile, pro-Russian militia have fired warning shots to block observers from entering the region.
March 8 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, son of the renowned Johann Sebastian Bach. C.P.E. Bach became one of the most important and famous composers of the 18th century.
The 28th edition of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is now underway, drawing tech, music and film innovators and fans from around the world to Texas. Edward Snowden and Neil Young are set to be event highlights.