Germany's Merkel wishes new Greece PM Alexis Tsipras 'strength and success'

Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the Presidential Palace after the swearing in ceremony in Athens on Jan 26, 2015. Tsipras' party took more than 36 percent of the vote in Sunday's general election, becoming the first elected movement
Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the Presidential Palace after the swearing in ceremony in Athens on Jan 26, 2015. Tsipras' party took more than 36 percent of the vote in Sunday's general election, becoming the first elected movement in Europe openly opposed to austerity. -- PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tuesday and wished him "much strength and success" after his anti-austerity party's election victory.

"You are taking office at a difficult time in which you face a great responsibility," Merkel said in the message released by the chancellery in Berlin.

She expressed the hope that his coalition government would "further strengthen and deepen the traditionally good and deep friendship between our peoples.

"For your future work as prime minister, I wish you much strength and success," she added.

Tsipras, whose radical left-wing Syria party won a stunning victory in Sunday's polls, has vowed to reverse many of the belt-tightening measures that Greece's creditors insisted on in return for its 240-billion-euro (S$364.5 billion) bailout deal.

Merkel's spokesman said on Monday that Germany, the paymaster for eurozone bailout packages, would listen closely to how the new Greek government sees its "future reform course and the fulfilment of its commitments".

"In our view it is important for the new government to take action to foster Greece's continued economic recovery," Steffen Seibert told reporters. "That also means Greece sticking to its previous commitments."

Merkel has pushed for swingeing budget cuts and strict economic reforms in response to the eurozone debt crisis.

Many in Greece and other stricken countries blame her for compounding the suffering of their people and choking off economic recovery.

But Germany and its allies argue that only fiscal discipline will put Europe on a sustainable path to growth.