Brussels - Leaders of the European Union appeared relieved late on Sunday at the prospect that a pro-austerity government might be formed following the latest elections in Greece.
Top officials of the EU and of the group of 17 nations currently using the euro said the Greek elections should allow quick formation of a government that will continue the austerity programme to which the country has committed itself.
“The Greek people have spoken,” said a statement issued jointly by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The Council is composed of representatives of the 27 EU countries; the Commission is the EU's executive branch.
“We fully respect its democratic choice. We are hopeful that the election results will allow a government to be formed quickly,” the joint statement said.
Early results showed pro-bailout New Democracy party coming in first in the Greek elections but needing to form a coalition with other parties.
A statement late on Sunday by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Paul Juncker, head of the eurogroup, on behalf of the 17 nations using the currency, struck the same tone as that of the top EU officials.
The eurogroup statement added that representatives the so-called Troika would visit Athens soon to discuss the way forward. The Troika is comprised of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - the institutions that provided Greece with bailout loans, and also set harsh conditions for receiving those loans.
The statement said the eurogroup “is convinced that continued fiscal and structural reforms are Greece's best guarantee to overcome the current economic and social challenges”.
Barroso and Van Rompuy said the austerity programme is “the basis upon which to build to foster growth, prosperity and jobs for the Greek people”. Their statement added: “We stand ready to continue assisting Greece in achieving these goals.” - Sapa-AP