Europe plays it tough with new Greek leaders

Greeks hope left-wing Syriza party brings change
Greeks hope left-wing Syriza party brings change

Europe's top officials are taking a tough line with Greece's new anti-austerity leaders.

Alexis Tsipras will be sworn in as prime minister on Monday after securing a landslide victory in Sunday's election. He leads a coalition of parties that wants to roll back austerity measures and negotiate new terms for Greece's massive debts, putting the country on a collision course with its international lenders.

Leading EU politicians and central bankers were quick to restate their opposition to a major renegotiation of Greece's bailouts, saying it had to play by the rules if it wanted to keep the euro as its currency.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund have together lent Greece some 240 billion euros in rescue loans since 2010.

Related: Greece's anti-austerity vote worries markets

In Germany, Europe's biggest economy, the Greek election results are seen as a nightmare. German taxpayers fear they'll be forced to bear the brunt of the losses if Greek debt is forgiven.

Germany wanted to work with the new Greek government, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.

"We believe it is important, that the new government put measures in place that will continue Greece's economic recovery. That also means that Greece must abide the rules it has agreed to, and that the new government must build on the successes achieved so far," the spokesman added.

Benoit Coeure, a member of the European Central Bank's executive board, said the bank could not accept a Greek debt haircut.

"It's absolutely clear that we cannot agree to debt relief that includes Greek bonds that are held at the ECB," Coeure told German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde also stood firm, saying Greece cannot demand special treatment, according to French newspaper Le Monde. She later issued a short statement: "We stand ready to continue supporting Greece, and look forward to discussions with the new government."

Officials from across the eurozone will discuss their response to the Greek election Monday at a meeting in Brussels. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch finance minister and chairman of the eurozone group of finance ministers, said Greece must play by the rules.

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