Merkel kicks off 60th with impromptu serenade

The Associated PressJuly 17, 2014 

Belgium Europe Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media at the end of an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, early Thursday, July 17, 2014. European Union leaders ordered tougher sanctions against Russia early Thursday because of its actions in Ukraine, asking the European Investment Bank to sign no new financing agreements with Moscow. The leaders, meeting in Brussels, also agreed to act together to suspend financing of the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development operations in Russia.

GEERT VANDEN WIJNGAERT — AP Photo

— German Chancellor Angela Merkel's 60th birthday got off to a less-than-melodious start.

A German television reporter launched into a rendition of "Happy Birthday, Liebe Bundeskanzlerin (Dear Chancellor)" at a news conference in Brussels early Thursday — but got no backup from his colleagues.

Merkel laughed and said: "I should have sung along, then it would have been better. But thank you."

Merkel, who has led Germany for 8 ½ years, said her European Union colleagues at their summit "didn't sing, they just gave me flowers — that was nice too — and champagne."

The chancellor officially marks her birthday later Thursday with a reception at her party's headquarters in Berlin, where German historian Juergen Osterhammel is to deliver a lecture.

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