British queen says must guard against division in Europe

British queen says must guard against division in Europe

BERLIN - Reuters
British queen says must guard against division in Europe

Britain's Queen Elizabeth makes a speech during a state banquet at Bellevue presidential palace in Berlin, Germany June 24, 2015. Reuters Photo

Britain's Queen Elizabeth urged Europe on June 24 to guard against division in the continent, at a state banquet in Berlin where Germany's president declared: "the European Union needs Great Britain". 

On the first full day of her visit to Germany, the queen said she and German President Joachim Gauck had seen "the worst but also the best" of Europe in their lifetimes, adding: "we must work hard to maintain the benefits of the post-war world." 

The 89-year-old queen, now in her 63rd year on the throne, lived in Britain during World War Two. 

In her fifth visit to Germany, where she will remain until June 26, she said: "We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the west, as well as in the east of our continent. That remains a common endeavour," she said, before proposing a toast to Gauck and the people of Germany. 

The queen made her speech as the Ukraine crisis stokes tensions with Russia to Europe's east, Greece's debt woes test tempers in the core of the continent and as Britain on its western flank seeks to renegotiate its position in the EU. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who will head to an EU summit in Brussels on June 24, also attended the banquet at Gauck's official residence, Schloss Bellevue. 

Merkel and Cameron also held talks earlier on June 24, hours after the German chancellor showed the queen around her office opposite the German parliament, pointing out the site of the Berlin Wall, which fell in 1989. 

Gauck said Germany would support a dialogue with Britain on EU reforms "because the United Kingdom is a part of Europe".