|Monday, 8 March 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-03-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 8 March 2016 Issue No: 5127
 Greece pushing for solution that will include returning refugees, migrants to TurkeyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Greece is pressuring at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels for a solution that will include returning refugees and migrants from Greece to Turkey, on the condition that it they will be directly resettled to EU countries, government sources said on Monday.
According to the same sources, the Visegrad Four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland) are disagreeing with the return of Syrian refugees to Turkey, claiming it is not a safe third country.
The Greek government criticized this stance, saying its "hypocritical", as these countries are not accepting refugees, do not cooperate for any solution and at the same time they're closing the borders, the sources said. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is asking for a decision on the refugee crisis to be taken tonight, saying that if there isn't, then the Balkan route should reopen to allow refugees to continue their journey.
The Greek side is also saying that if the "Plan A" is not accepted - the return of refugees and migrants to Turkey - then we must go to "Plan B" which entails returning only migrants to Turkey.
 Negotiations based on EU-Turkey plan, not Visegrad proposals viewed as a success - gov't sourcesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
Greece considers a success the fact that the ongoing negotiations at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels are based on the EU-Turkey plan and not on the demands made by Austria and the VIsegrad countries which asked to close Greece's northern borders, government sources said on Monday.
According to the sources, not only was Greece not isolated, but it managed to isolate the Visegrad countries which are now threatening to veto the decisions, but also Austria, which is reacting to the EU-Turkey plan.
 PM Tsipras: Allocation of responsibility and solidarity among EU fundamental principlesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)
We have principles and values in Europe and one of our fundamental principles is the allocation of responsibility as well as solidarity, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday upon his arrival at the EU summit.
He said that the refugee issue is a common, European problem, and not a problem of one country and stressed the importance of finding common, European solutions. "Unfortunately, there were agreements between the two summits that were not implemented from everyone, and this is a problem for Europe."
?"Today we are looking forward to concrete results in the meeting with Turkey in order to implement the Action Plan, to substantially reduce flows to Greece and combat networks of smugglers," Tsipras stated, adding that it is necessary to "significantly accelerate the process of relocation and have a credible relocation process."
 Merkel speaks out against closure of Balkan routeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will ask not to include the phrase referring to the closure of the Western Balkans route in the final conclusions of the summit, as it would justify Austria's actions, a European official said in statements to ANA-MPA.
The same source said that although the Austrian position was prevailing until yesterday, coordinated opposition reactions from the European Commission, German Chancellor Merkel and the Greek government appears to have changed the negotiation basis. Therefore, the main priorities are for Greece to continue the construction of hotspots, NATO and Frontex operation in the Aegean Sea to bring results, Turkey to accept the readmission of undocumented migrants before June 1 and a refugees relocation process from Turkey to start.
 We will support Greece, says French President HollandeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
France supports a plan based on the protection of EU's external borders, the cooperation with Turkey and the solidarity to Greece, stated French President Francois Hollande upon his arrival to the EU-Turkey Summit in Brussels.
Regarding Turkey's cooperation with EU, Hollande noted that it must be "honest and effective". He said that it will request from Turkey to commit that it will fight against the traffickers, that it will accept the readmission of economic migrants that came to Europe through its territory and in parallel Europe is examining a refugee relocation programme directly from Turkey.
On the safety and protection of the external borders in the Aegean, the French President noted that they expect results from the NATO navy force that is currently patrolling the area.
Referring to Greece, Hollande said that EU will offer support because Greece is at EU's external borders and the first entrance country for the refugees. He admitted that today the West Balkan Route is closed and, as he said, Greece will accept a large number of refugees that continue to arrive in the country and for this reason it must be supported. The solution is the refugees flows to lessen and Turkey's cooperation is necessary in order for this to be achieved.
 Seven EU countries met to coordinate talks with TurkeyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
A meeting between the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Greece and Cyprus, with the participation of the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, took place in the sidelines of the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on Monday, government sources said.
According to the sources, the aim of the meeting was to coordinate negotiations with Turkey.
 Tsipras set conditions for opening new chapters in Turkey's accession talks at EU summit, sources sayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki)
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras referred to the specific steps of progress that Ankara must make as a precondition for opening new chapters in Turkey's EU accession negotiations, during the EU leaders summit held here on Monday, government sources said.
Tsipras said that the new chapters must not open unless there is progress in Turkey's implementation of the Ankara protocol and on its standing 'casus belli' threat against Greece if the latter should decide to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, in line with international practice.
 Schulz: Turkey's EU accession talks not precondition for tackling refugee crisisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
Turkey's EU accession process should not be a precondition for tackling the refugee crisis, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said on Monday, following a working luncheon between EU's 28 leaders and Turkey.
Schulz also confirmed earlier reports that Turkey has asked for an additional 3 billion euros to tackle the problem, as well as a speeding up of the visa procedure for Turkish citizens.
Concerning the return of all refugees - including Syrians - to Turkey, so as to start a resettlement procedure from its territory and as a precondition for applying for asylum, Schulz said it is a way to fight traffickers. "A measure like this will be against traffickers, not against refugees. Refugees will know they have a chance to relocate to Europe, without placing their lives at risk," he said.
"It's a kind of protection for the refugees," he added.
 Planned press conference with Davutoglu postponed, EU source saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki)
A scheduled press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been postponed until after dinner, an EU source said on Monday.
The 28 EU leaders will convene for a summit after a lunch with Davutoglu, who will then rejoin them for dinner.
According to the source, the aim is for Davutoglu to present his positions and the 28 EU leaders to agree on a joint position, after which the Turkish prime minister will return to conclude the negotiations. The summit's goal is to reach an agreement that goes beyond the agreement that Tusk made with Davutoglu last week, persuading Turkey not to accept only those that have no right to asylum but also non-Syrian refugees or even Syrians in exchange from a resettlement process directly from Turkey.
 Greece will focus on four issues at EU -Turkey summit, sources sayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Spinthourakis)
Greece will focus on four issues at Monday's EU-Turkey Summit, according to sources.
These four issues are defining the procedures for the relocation of refugees in EU countries, sending a message to refugees that risking their lives to come to Greece is pointless, defining the procedures for the return to their countries and assisting financially Greece on assuming the biggest part of the crisis.
According to diplomatic sources, senior EU officials gradually adopt the idea that refugees and migrants should clearly understand that Greece is not a transition route to northern Europe as well as that Syrian refugees, who have the right to apply for an asylum, will not be propelled to EU via Greece but via Turkey and this issue is under discussion with the Turkish side.
 Alt.FM Xydakis cautiously optimistic over outcome of EU-Turkey SummitAlternate Foreign Minister Nikos Xydakis appeared cautiously optimistic over the outcome of Monday's EU-Turkey Summit on the refugee issue.
Speaking on Monday to Praktorio 104,9 FM, he underlined that Greece has no other way than that of consensus and pressure on countries that follow the policy of closed borders.
He noted that nothing is certain in Europe and referring to Austria and the countries of Wisegrad, he said that by their refusal to implement EU's decisions, they violate, among others, the international laws. "What we see is an 'Orbanism' meaning the Hungarian Minister Orban's policy on violation of whatever European acquis, violation of the international treaties and open mutiny stance," noted Xydakis.
At a query if Ankara could and wishes to reduce the refugees flows to Europe, Xydakis only said that the visa liberalisation by itself would be a huge change and and major political profit for Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 EU member-states have agreed to 766 refugee relocations from Greece, asylum service reportsThe EU member-states have so far agreed to 766 refugee relocations from Greece, out of a total 2000 places offered, the Greek asylum service reported on Monday.
It said that 1,380 applications for relocation had been submitted, of which the Greek asylum service had forwarded 1,200 to other member-states. Of these, 766 had been approved. Greek authorities do not forward applications when there are doubts concerning security or nationality.
Just over half or 636 of the outgoing applications were submitted by Syrians, while 374 were submitted by Iraqis, 97 by Eritreans, 81 by Yemen nationals, 10 by stateless individuals, one from the Central Africa Republic and one by an Iranian. The applicants included 704 males and 496 females, of which 34.7 pct were children aged up to 13, 5.7 pct were teenagers aged 14-17, 38 pct were adults aged 18-34, 20.8 pct were adults aged 35-64 and 0.9 pct were over 65.
 The refugees problem is the result of Europe's reluctance to implement common desicions, says Alt. Migration Min MouzalasEurope should implement the common decisions on the refugees and stop being a victim of extreme right and xenophobic voices that exacerbate the problem, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas on Monday said in an interview with Swiss-Italian Radiotelevision RSI.
"The borders are closed and the whole problem is created because of the EU, which instead of materializing its own decisions has become the victim of unilateral actions. These actions which, on the one hand it strongly condemns and on the other hand cannot confront. And I am referring to the voices of some countries like Austria and those of Wisegrad", stressed Mouzalas.
Referring to the continuous flow of refugees in the Greek territory, the minister said that since EU appears reluctant to impose a policy on controlling the refugee flows, the problem will not stop. The refugees influx cannot be intercepted."
"The only solution EU can offer is the solution we agreed in the beginning of the crisis", which is the immediate allocation of refugees directly from Turkey, after the completion of a thorough identification of all refugees, said Mouzalas. "Of these three steps, the only one that is completed for now is their identification in Greece. What happens now is that we identify them and they remain in Greece," he concluded.
As for the role of Turkey, the Alternate Minister said that the Turkish factor is "from the beginning a part within the problem. The flows begin from its territory."
In his interview the minister stressed that Greece efforts focus on resolving the problem within its territory, but also to follow the basic principles of Europe. "We are trying hard to solve the problem created inside our territory and our effort is according to the common decisions and we hope that Europe will maintain the character it has since its birth. As a gynaecologist, I can assure you that the character cannot be changed. I think Europe will be exactly as it was born. The Europe of Enlightenment, of Romanticism and not the Medieval Europe."
 Alt. FM Xydakis to have series of meetings in Lisbon and RomeAlternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs will visit Portugal and Italy within the framework of his tours in European capitals in order to brief his counterparts on the Greek positions on the refugees as well as on other european issues.
Xydakis will leave on Tuesday from Brussels, where he is currently accompanying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the EU-Turkey Summit, for Portugal. In Lisbon he will meet with Secretary of State of European Affairs Margarida Marques, Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa, Portugal's candidate for the position of UN Seceretary General Antonio Gutteres as well as with parliament member elected with the Bloco De Esquerda Catarina Martins.
Moreover, Xydakis will participate in Portugal's parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs session chaired by main opposition deputy Regina Bastos.
On Thursday, the Greek minister will visit Italy and will meet with Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister of Italy for European Affairs Sandro Gozi and deputy Foreign minister responsible for Greek-Italian relations Vicenzo Amendola.
 The climate on refugee issue has changed, gov't sources confirmBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)
Government sources on Monday confirmed the change of climate on the refugee issue ahead of the working luncheon of EU leaders with the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
It is clear, as they said, that closed borders is not the solution to the problem, but the solution lies within the implementation of those agreed on the part of Turkey and the operation of NATO in the Aegean Sea. The same sources said that the current developments are extremely "significant" and sent the message that jumping into conclusions does not help anyone, on the contrary, it poses risks.
Unilateral actions and closed borders are condemned, they noted. According to credible sources, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached a common position at their meeting on Monday that closed borders is an unacceptable practice and such a reference should not be included in the final conclusions of the summit.
The Greek Prime Minister also met with his Dutch counterpart and referred to Greece's four priorities for limiting refugee flows, returning to Turkey refugees not entitled to asylum, a credible relocation plan and financial assistance to Greece.
In the meeting with Davutoglu, Tsipras underlined the need for Turkey to implement as soon as possible all those agreed with the EU.
Moreover, Tsipras met with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and decided a common national line on issues related to the EU-Turkey Action Plan.
 'Open the borders,' plead desperate refugees in Idomeni as EU leaders bargainGrimly hanging on and determined to stay close to the gateway north, despite ever-deteriorating conditions at the woefully inadequate Idomeni camp, the refugees stranded in Greece had only one message for Europe's leaders as they met on Monday to seek a solution to the refugee crisis: 'Open the borders'.
They knew little and cared less about the politics and the bargaining in Brussels, clinging only to the hope that the obstacles barring their path to central Europe will somehow be lifted, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary. In the meantime, since most now realise the wait could be a long one, they busied themselves setting up makeshift shelters, using blankets to protect themselves from the cold and huddling around open fires with their families to cook and keep warm, trying to eke out what little money they have left as long as possible.
Authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday tightened the criteria even further, now accepting only Syrians and Iraqis from specific areas in those countries where conflict is taking place and turning back those from Damascus, Baghdad and other towns considered "less dangerous". Only a few hundred were allowed to cross the border in the 24 hours before 6:00 on Monday and FYROM had not let even one refugee pass throughout the morning.
This has not deterred those seeking a chance at a new life in Europe, with an estimated 400 newcomers arriving at the already overstretched Idomeni camp each day. They are determined to stay as close as possible to the no-man's land with FYROM, in case there is any change and a decision is made to let more people through.
There are even a few dozen Afghans who still believe they will be get through, despite the blanket ban for all nationalities apart from Syrians and Iraqis. One young Afghan had been camping out at Idomeni with his family for 20 days, waiting.
"What can I do? I will stay here and if they don't let us [pass], I will set fire to myself and burn," he told the ANA-MPA.
Doctors Without Borders are now working to expand the camp, installing new toilets and putting up four large tents, each fitting up to 200 people. This was still not enough and additional chemical toilets to the 180 already installed will be needed, aid worker Antonis Rigas told the ANA-MPA.
"The camp was designed for 2,500 people and now it has become gigantic," he said.
Based on the last figure released by Greek authorities, there were now 8,550 refugees crammed into the camp at Idomeni, while FYROM authorities had only allowed 337 people through in the 24 hours before 6:00 on Monday.
 Draft summit conclusions do not fulfill the minimum requirements, main opposition leader Mitsotakis saysMain opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday estimated that the draft summit conclusions presented in Brussels do not fulfill the minimum requirements jointly agreed with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other political leaders on Friday.
In an interview with Real FM, he underlined that the draft conclusions are below expectations. "From the very beginning, New Democracy has shown a rather responsible stance, has asked for a consensus framework and has helped the prime minister adopt more reasonable views."
 High Representative Mogherini and Commissioner Avramopoulos welcome the modalities of their cooperation in the Aegean"We welcome that Frontex and NATO reached a common understanding today on the modalities of their cooperation in the Aegean Sea," High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a joint statement.
These operational modalities will maximise the effectiveness, ensure consistency and complementarity of the FRONTEX operation "Poseidon Rapid Intervention" in the area and the efforts of NATO's support activities, they said.
According to the joint statement, the decision of NATO to assist in the conduct of reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance of illegal crossings in the Aegean Sea is an important contribution to international efforts to tackle smuggling and irregular migration in the Aegean Sea in the context of the refugee crisis.
Today's common understanding is another example of the relevance of EU-NATO practical cooperation, already present in many crisis theatres. The EU trusts that its joint efforts with NATO will contribute to address the many challenges raised by the current migration crisis, and reduce the dangers of irregular crossings in the Aegean Sea, they added.
 Defence minister urges NATO's Stoltenberg to start operations in eastern AegeanNational Defence Minister Panos Kammenos noted the need for NATO to immediately start operations along the entire Greek island coastline in the eastern Aegean, from Limnos to Kastelorizo and from Gavdos to the coast of Asia Minor, in a meeting with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.
According to the ministry, the two officials discussed issues related to NATO's operation in the eastern Aegean, adding that "Greek positions were accepted."
 Greece hosts 33,320 refugees, Migration Management Centre saysA total of 33,320 refugees are currently in the Greek territory, according to the data of the Coordinating Centre for the Management of Migration.
6,211 refugees are on the islands with the majority of them on Lesvos (3,550), Chios (1,422) and Samos (489) while 27,109 people are on the mainland (8,000 at Idomeni, 3,400 at Herso, 2,200 at Piraeus, 3,570 at Elliniko, 2,136 at Diavata, 2,797 at Nea Kavala, 1,050 at Polykastro and 1,423 at Schisto.
 2,500 refugees, migrants housed in Piraeus port passenger stationsAbout 2,500 refugees and migrants are currently housed in the five passenger stations and warehouse of the Piraeus Port (OLP), following the arrival of 728 people from the eastern Aegean islands on Monday morning.
Sources at the Shipping ministry said the selection of OLP's facilities is temporary and that the aim is to use them as transit stations rather than a temporary accommodation shelter. They also noted that new decisions will be made after the results of Monday's EU-Turkey summit in Brussels are announced.
The regional government of Attica also started using today the warehouse near the Taekwondo stadium in southern Athens as a storage facility for all the humanitarian aid collected by volunteers for refugees and migrants.
 16,000 temporary refugees hosting facilities to be created this weekA total of 16,000 temporary hosting facilities for refugees will have been created by next week, Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas on Monday said in statements to SKAI TV.
According to the minister, 33,000 refugees are currently in Greece adding that the aim of the government is to decongest the port of Piraeus where around 2,500 people are stranded.
Regarding NATO's role and its action in the national territorial waters, he said that it patrols, records and informs both sides. There is nothing objectionable, nor "grey zones" he noted.
 Debt relief talk to start in April, institutions to return to Athens on TuesdayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
The heads of the institutions will return to Athens on Tuesday, sources with knowledge of the talks taking place at Monday's Eurogroup said.
The same sources said that Eurozone finance ministers were informed by Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem that talks on debt relief for Greece will start on April.
 Eurogroup's Dijsselbloem says institutions to return to Athens 'possibly tomorrow'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki, M. Aroni)
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the institutions will return to Athens "possibly tomorrow" to complete the first review of Greece's adjustment program.
Speaking after the Eurogroup meeting at a joint press conference with European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, and the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Klaus Regling, he said the preparation has been satisfactory but that more work needs to be done to complete the review. He specified that there are fiscal gaps that need to be covered and reforms that have to be deepened.
On his side, Moscovici expressed his satisfaction with Eurogroup's decision to ask for the return of the institutions to Athens, noting that this positive development is due to intensive work between the institutions and the Greek authorities in recent weeks. He stressed however that work needs to continue on a number of issues: the operation of the privatization fund, taxation, social security reform, the creation of an independent authority on public revenues and resolving the problem of non-performing loans.
Concerning fiscal targets, Moscovici said that in the Commission's view, Greece will have to achieve a primary surplus of 3.5 pct of GDP in 2018. "We will work together to agree on the measures which will lead us to the achievement of this goal," he said.
Asked about the completion of Greece's first program review, the Commissioner said it could be achieved soon as it is in everyone's interest, all the more so considering Greece's refugee crisis. He said the review could be completed before the Orthodox Easter on May 1, noting that the institutions are returning to Greece to find a solution as soon as possible. Moscovici also said talks on debt relief will start soon.
The managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Klaus Regling, said ESM representatives will visit Athens on Tuesday and stressed the need to complete the review soon, noting that the Greek economy's liquidity margins are tight and that the country must avoid falling into arrears. He reminded that ESM has already disbursed 21 billion euros, which is one fourth of the total amount of the program (86 bln euros).
 Eurogroup should send institutions back to Athens to conclude review, Moscovici saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
Monday's Eurogroup must reach a decision for the return of the institution mission chiefs to Athens to conclude the first review of Greece's programme, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said as he arrived for the Eurozone finance ministers' meeting in Brussels.
"We are not at a conclusion, but yes, the mission chiefs could and should return to Athens with the prospect of concluding the review as fast as possible," Moscovici told reporters.
"I think that today we will come to a unanimous decision to send the mission chiefs back to Athens. It is my point of view that we should do that," he said.
The institutions should on Monday demonstrate that they have a common stance on the review, Moscovici added. This meant, firstly, that the discussion on a technical level in Athens had to be constructive, secondly, that there was still a certain amount of work to be done, thirdly that there was some room to manoeuvre regarding reforms and, lastly, that the mission chiefs should return to Athens to conclude the review as soon as possible.
This was the political decision that had to be taken on Monday, taking into account the refugee situation in Greece, Moscovici said.
 Djisselbloem on Greece: 'We need to stick to the agreement we had last summer'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
Greece needs to deliver the reforms on the basis of the agreement made last summer, Eurogroup President Jeroen Djisselbloem said on Monday.
"We need credible and sustainable pension reforms and the budget needs to be on track also, in the medium term," Djisselbloem said as he arrived for a Eurogroup meeting. He was replying to questions about the differences between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the other institutions on the issue of Greece's debt.
"That is not just something that concerns the IMF, it is something that concerns all the institutions and the Eurogroup," he added.
"We need to stick to the agreement we had last summer," the Eurogroup president said, adding that the Eurogroup meeting on Monday would probably address questions of how to do that and what fresh fiscal measures might be needed.
 FinMin Tsakalotos confirms return of institutions to AthensBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos confirmed on Monday that the heads of the institutions will return to Athens to complete the first program review, following a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.
"The institutions agreed to return. The IMF also agreed to return, despite some differences," he told journalists, noting that the meeting was "very good".
"We expect further talks, to complete the first review in time and to have a conversation about debt. I'm sure that when logical people sit around a table, they'll find a logical solution," he added.
 Transport, trade, tourism in focus at Greek-Turkish meeting in IzmirThe development of bilateral Greek-Turkish relations, mainly in the economic sector will be the focus of the 4th meeting of the bilateral High-Level Cooperation Council, which will take place in Izmir on Tuesday, government sources said.
According to the sources, the agenda will include mainly issues relating to transport, trade and tourism, part of which is an agreement on a ferry service between Thessaloniki and Izmir and on a railway connection between Thessaloniki and Istanbul.
Apart from the Council meeting, a separate Greek-Turkish Business Forum will be held in which 36 Greek business and bodies will participate, mainly from the tourism, real estate, food and drink, construction, logistics, transport and building materials sectors.
In terms of Greek exports, Turkey's interest focuses mainly on construction materials, while in terms of Turkish investments to Greece, on tourism and real estate.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu will also discuss the refugee crisis, with Greece stressing the need to implement and speed up migrant readmission procedures.
Ten ministers will accompany Tsipras to his visit to Izmir, among which Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis.
 ND leader: Greece should take lessons from Cyprus on implementing bailoutMain opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday that Greece should take lessons from Cyprus on how to correctly implement the measures of its bailout program, following a meeting with the leader of the Democratic Rally party, Averof Neofytou, in Nicosia.
"It's a particularly important day for Cyprus, as today's Eurogroup will confirm the country's exit from the memoran-dum after three years of systematic effort," Mitsotakis said in joint statements to the press.
He continued to say that, unlike Cyprus, Greece "is still in the grip of a third program, from which it is not expected to come out soon", adding that it is therefore "extremely important to take lessons from Cyprus and see what our Cypriot brothers did correctly and most importantly, how they implemented consistently a program by telling the truth to people, how they created a bipartisan consensus on necessary reforms and how they achieved fiscal consolidation without increasing taxes."
 Greek economy continues facing significant challenges, SEV report saysThe Greek economy, despite resilience shown so far, continues to face significant challenges, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) said in its monthly economic bulletin, and stressed that a refugee crisis and prolonged negotiations were undermining economic sentiment in the country.
"A stabilisation of economic activity and a smoothening of operating conditions for enterprises, following the imposition of capital controls, was again at risk from a continuing extension of negotiations to complete a review of the programme and a continuing influx of migrants," the Federation said, adding that "in order to avoid a new cycle of recession and to return to positive growth rates from the second half of 2016, an improvement of confidence on economic outlook was initially necessary, which could be achieved with the immediate completion of a review of the adjustment programme, a faster implementation of agreed reforms and a common policy on the refugee issue from Europe."
The Federation noted that the consumer confidence index was at the lowest level since September 2013, although the Greek economy contracted by 0.2 pct in 2015, smaller than initially expected.
 Greek construction group Ellaktor to built segment of TAP pipelineGreece's biggest construction group Ellaktor said on Monday that subsidiary Aktor along with French based, global pipeline contractor, Spiecapag, will construct the first out of the three segments of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in northern Greece.
TAP envisages the construction of a 760-km pipeline stretching from the Greek-Turkish borders to the coast of Albania.
The specific section concerns the construction of a 48-inch diameter pipeline, 180 kilometers in length, stretching from the Turkish border to Kavala, as well as additional facilities for its operation. Completion of the project is expected in about two years, the company said.
 HRADF begins sale of two Airbus aircraftHellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) on Monday announced the beginning of a process to sell two Airbus aircraft A340-300 with MSN 280 and 292.
In an announcement, HRADF said that its Board of Directors unanimously decided to begin the process of two Airbus aircraft A340-300 with MSN 280 and 292.
The international public tender will take place in one phase provided that the property titles will be transferred to HRADF by the Greek State until the tender procedure is completed. The aircrafts will be sold to state ?as is -where is? and the interested investors can make their own checks in cooperation with the project consultants. The Call for Proposals (RFP) was posted earlier today on the website HRADF (www.hradf.gr) with all the terms of the tender.
The on time completion of the tender process it is imperative due to the high maintenance cost (CAMO) and parking of the aircrafts as well as the continuing depreciation because of obsolescence.
The two aircrafts were bought by Olympic Airways in 1999 with a leasing contract.
 Greek consumers spend less in supermarkets, surveyGreek consumers are steadily reducing their purchases from supermarkets, with a 60 pct of consumers saying they had reduced the value of their purchases in 2015, an IELKA annual survey said on Monday.
The survey said that the 2015 rate was smaller compared with 2012 and 2013 and noted that in the last four years more than 60 pct of consumers lowered their purchases from supermarkets.
Monthly household spending on groceries is down 17.4 pct in the last five years, while spending on food is down 14.8 pct over the same period.
In 2010, the average households spent 460 euros on groceries, while in 2014 spending fell to 380 euros. Spending on groceries and food fell by 21.4 pct in the 2010-2014, IELKA said. The survey showed, however, that although spending on groceries fell in value, spending as a percentage of total household spending rose slightly to 26 pct in 2014 from 23.5 pct in 2010. This showed that spending on clothing, furniture and services fell more compared with a decline in spending on groceries.
IELKA said that a 52 pct of consumers were expected to reduce their purchases from supermarkets in 2016, a 30 pct said it spend the same as last year and only 18 pct said they will spend more this year. On average, consumers said their purchases from supermarkets were expected to decline by 3.2 pct in 2016.
 Foreign investors raised share in ASE capitalisation in FebruaryForeign investors raised their participation in the capitalisation of the Athens Stock Exchange in February to 59.6 pct -including the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund - while excluding HFSF participation their share rose to 62.3 pct from 61.8 pct in January.
Foreign investors were net buyers in February, with capital inflows totaling 38.05 million euros, while Greek investors were net sellers with capital outflows amounting to 38.16 million. The value of transactions reached 1.275 billion euros in February, down 10.3 pct from January, and down 56.8 pct compared with February 2015. The average daily turnover was 60.73 million euros in February, down from 74.84 million in January and down from 155.43 million in February last year.
The number of active investor codes rose to 21,159 in February from 17,556 in January (but down from 38,527 in February 2015). The market's capitalisation was 31.15 billion at the end of February, down 8.6 pct from a month earlier, and down 31.8 pct from February 2015.
 Greek stocks extend rally for eighth successive sessionGreek stocks ended higher in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange, extending their rally for the eighth successive session. Traders said reports that the representatives of the institutions were expected in Athens on Tuesday to restart negotiations on the review of the Greek economic programme, boosted sentiment in the market.
The composite index rose 1.19 pct to end at 559.44 points, after falling as much as 1.20 pct early in the session. The index is up 17.96 pct in the last eight sessions. The Large Cap index rose 1.82 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.29 pct lower. Turnover was a low 58.022 million euros in volume of 100,342,456.
National Bank (5.86 pct), Titan (5.41 pct) and Folli Follie (5.40 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Mytilineos (4.43 pct), Athens Water (3.59 pct) and GEK Terna (2.05 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Piraeus Bank and National Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Commerce (5.41 pct) and Constructions (4.48 pct) scored big gains, while Insurance (7.14 pct) and Health (5.09 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers narrowly led decliners by 54 to 53 with another 15 issues unchanged. Boutaris (19.23 pct), Athina (18.84 pct) and Sato (13.43 pct) were top gainers, while Intrakat (17.40 pct), Compucon (15.79 pct) and AEGEK (13.33 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 9.56 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 9.53 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.56 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.21 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate rose to -0.024 pct from -0.026 pct, the nine-month rate rose to -0.079 pct from -0.080 pct, the six-month rate was -0.136 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.216 pct from -0.215 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.285 pct from -0.281 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.71 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,432 contracts with 13,867 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 53,124 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (18,733), followed by Alpha Bank (10,775), Piraeus Bank (13,368), Eurobank (3,631), MIG (620), OTE (311), PPC (664), OPAP (528), Hellenic Exchanges (202), Mytilineos (210), Hellenic Petroleum (328), Motor Oil (144), GEK (165), Ellaktor (162) and Folli Follie (170).
 Ancient grave dated back to geometric period in prehistoric era found on LesvosA 8th-century B.C. grave dating back to Greece's geometric period and containing some valuable grave goods has been discovered on the Aegean island of Lesvos, near the village of Evergetoula, archaeologists reported. The announcement was made on Friday.
The grave was found during digging to install sewer pipes in the village, at a depth of 1.5 metres from the surface of the road, and constitutes a unique and rare grave complex revealing important information about the prehistoric era and archaeology of the island, being the first from this period to be discovered.
It is a built rectangular grave made out of schist stones containing the unsullied burial of what is possibly a young woman, dated to between 750 and 700 BC. In the grave were five grey pottery vases, possibly made in a Lesvos workshop, a krater-form cup, a deep and shallow basin, two pitchers and jewellery made of gold and bronze set at the head and pelvis, as well as a bone pin.
The gold jewellery includes two earrings made of thin sheets of gold using the granulation technique (covering the surface with small spherules or granules of precious metal), a biconical bead and a copper bead that may have come from a pendant.
North of this burial was another case built of schist rocks containing a grey amphora with its stone lid and a shallow pottery bowl.
According to the Lesvos Antiquities Ephorate the jewellery is an excellent example of goldsmithing of that period, after it started to develop in the Aegean and mainland in the 8th century B.C. and reached its peak in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.
 "Ariadni" ferry with 571 migrants docked at Pireus on Monday"Ariadni" ferry with 571 migrants and refugees docked at Piraeus port on Monday morning. "Blue Star 2" is expected to arrive to the port later in the day carrying 157 refugees and migrants from Dodecanese islands.
Sunday night, "Nisos Mytilene" ferry also docked at the port of Pireaus carrying 229 refugees and migrants from Chios, Mytilene and Samos.
The port authorities have offered four passenger stations and the warehouse for the hosting of the more than 3.000 refugees who had arrived last week.
A prefabricated house has already been set from the Regional Unios of Pireaus to operate since Monday morning as centre for the coordination of the urgent needs of hosting the increasing number of refugees.
 337 crossed the Greek-FYROM buffer zone in 24hA total of 337 refugees managed to cross the Greek-FYROM buffer zone over the last 24 hours.
According to police, more than 12,000 refugees have been stranded at the camp at Idomeni.
 Partly cloudy on TuesdayClouds, local rain and winds from variable directions are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 07C-17C. Partly cloudy in the western parts and temperatures between 09C-17C. Possibility of light rain in the eastern parts and temperatures between 07C-18C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 11C-20C. Partly cloudy in Athens, 08C-18C; the same for Thessaloniki, 07C-17C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: A summit of top hypocrisy
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pensions before 67
ESTIA: Erdogan's suffocating climate
ETHNOS: Incentives to cancel bad loans
DIMOKRATIA: Justice to be given
TA NEA: The blackmails' mouths are closed
NAFTEMPORIKI: 200 billion euro private debt
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