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Brexit vote regrettable, turning point for Europe: Germany’s Merkel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to address journalists following a meeting with German parliamentary groups and ministers to discuss the Brexit vote at the Chancellery in Berlin on June 24, 2016. ©AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed regret over Britain's vote to quit the European Union (EU), stressing that the development marks a critical moment for the European integration.

"We have to recognize the decision of the majority of the British people with deep regret today," Merkel told reporters on Friday, adding, "There is no point beating about the bush: today is a watershed for Europe, it is a watershed for the European unification process."

She also urged EU member states not to make hasty conclusions about the UK’s EU exit in order to avoid further splitting Europe.

It was important that all the other 27 EU member states analyzed the situation "calmly and prudently” and then took "the right decisions together," she added.

The German chancellor further emphasized that his country had a particular interest and responsibility in European unity succeeding.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Merkel said that she will host French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Council President Donald Tusk in Berlin on Monday. The officials are expected to discuss how to secure European unity following the Brexit vote.

Supporters of the UK’s exit from the EU wave Union Jack flags, following the result of the EU referendum, outside Downing Street in London, Britain, June 24, 2016. ©Reuters

In a referendum held on June 23, Britons voted to withdraw from the EU by a narrow margin, with a turnout of 72 percent.

Leave won the referendum with 51.9 percent (17,410,742 votes), while Remain finished on 48.1 percent (16,141,241 votes).

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was leading the battle to keep the country in the EU, announced his decision to step down by October.

European leaders fear a domino effect of the UK’s departure from the 28-nation bloc, with the citizens of other member states demanding similar polls.

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