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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union on Friday as a "wonderful decision" and said it would inspire her personally to press ahead with closer integration.
"The fact that the Nobel Committee has honored this idea is both a spur and an obligation, also for me in a very personal way," she said in a short statement to reporters at the chancellery.
"Six decades of peace in Europe, that is a long time for those of us who live in the EU, but from a historical point of view it is just the blink of an eye," she said. "We must work tirelessly and continue to strive for peace, democracy and freedom."
Merkel, leader of the EU's biggest economy, has led the drive to defuse the debt and financial crisis threatening the survival of the euro currency.
But her insistence on tough fiscal measures to cut debt in the midst of a wrenching recession in southern Europe has drawn strong criticism from some countries in the 27-nation EU.
On Tuesday huge protests greeted her visit to Greece, the euro zone's hardest hit member.
Merkel has called for the transfer of more powers to supranational EU institutions to help overcome the crisis but faces strong resistance from some member states and has yet to spell out a detailed vision of how this would work.
Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Noah Barkin