"The reforms that we've agreed on are starting to be effective," Merkel said in her recorded New Year's address.
"Nevertheless, we still need a lot of patience. The crisis is far from over," she said in a transcript of her addressed released early Monday.
Her comments differed from those of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who was quoted Thursday as telling the Bild newspaper, "I think we have the worst behind us."
They also differed from those of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who told France's Europe 1 radio Nov. 30, "The recovery for the entire eurozone will no doubt begin in the second half of 2013."
Merkel, 58, who faces an election to a third term in September, pointed to Germany's lowest level of unemployment since 1990's reunification of East Germany and West Germany, while the number of people employed had risen to record highs.
She said this meant "many hundreds of thousands of families have a secure future."
Merkel urged Germans to resist laying blame on economically weaker countries for the 3-year-old financial crisis that has made it difficult or impossible for some eurozone governments to repay or re-finance their debt without assistance.
"For our prosperity and our solidarity, we need the right balance. We need the willingness to perform and social security for all," she said in the recorded remarks. "The European sovereign debt crisis shows how important this balance is."
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