NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC congratulated Alexis Tsipras, head of the Syriza political party, which convincingly won Greece's national elections yesterday. Tsipras will serve as prime minister in the next government, succeeding Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
"Greece continues to face enormous economic and social challenges that will engage the incoming government from day one. We wish the new leaders success, hoping they will continue the country's principal orientation toward the European Union," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Moreover, in recent years, Greece has built strong, mutually beneficial ties with Israel, and fostered closer quadrilateral relations among the United States, Israel, Cyprus and itself, which we also trust will remain a pillar of Greece's international outlook."
Over the past three decades, AJC has maintained robust relationships with Greek leaders, through regular visits to Athens, engagement with diplomats in the U.S. and Europe, and cooperative ties with Hellenic-American groups. AJC also has a long-standing association agreement with KIS, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. Last year, an AJC delegation met for an hour in Athens with Tsipras, the new prime minister.
"We are dedicated friends of Greece," said Harris, who also expressed admiration for outgoing Prime Minister Samaras, with whom AJC met frequently in Athens, Brussels, and New York during his three years as prime minister. "He led Greece through enormously challenging times. Though many of those challenges remain, his determined efforts to reverse the economic travails facing Greece and work closely with the international community, his courage to confront and combat the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, and his vision to strengthen security in the eastern Mediterranean, including ties with Israel, will all be hallmarks of his incumbency."
Following Syriza's electoral victory, Samaras, head of the New Democracy Party, said, "For the good of this country, I hope the next government will maintain what has been achieved."
Golden Dawn, despite a crackdown on its leadership during the past year, won enough votes to be the third largest party in the parliament.
"It's dismaying that Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party that threatens the democratic fabric of Greece, a country brutally occupied by the Nazi regime in World War II, and menaces principally immigrants and Jews in Greece, continues to garner significant support," said Harris. "We look to the Syriza-led government to continue the measures implemented during the past years, and assure all minority communities, who are an integral part of Greece, that they will continue to be fully protected and respected, and that there will be no place for anti-Semitism in mainstream Greek society."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee