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Tsipras says international audit for economic reforms to begin next week

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said that the EU-IMF audit for his country could begin by March 10. The leader has also demanded assistance for dealing with the refugee crisis.

"There must finally be an agreement between the creditors so we can move forward," Tsipras said on Tuesday in an interview broadcast on Star television, referring to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the EU and the European Central Bank (ECB).

The so-called "troika" completed the first phase of a review last month but have not announced any formal plans for the next phase. The IMF has worked with the EU on two bailouts to Greece since 2010. However, it declined from participating in the EU's

85-billion-euro ($92.3 billion) aid program

to the country in July 2015 and says it has problems with Tsipras' planned pension reforms.

"My estimate is that [senior creditor representatives will] return in the first ten days of March," Tsipras said.

The Greece prime minister however said that the IMF had to "return to reality" and decide whether it still wanted to participate in the rescue package. "The IMF must be asked for a clear statement - either you agree with the program and you stay, but with realistic targets, or if you don't agree and you want to leave, tell us in a timely fashion."

Griechenland Mazedonien Flüchtlinge bei Idomeni

Refugees at Idomeni, waiting to cross over to Macedonia

Tsipras also announced his country could do without financing from the IMF. "As we did not require 25 billion euros as initially calculated but 5.7 billion, [we can] meet our financing needs without the IMF's presence, he said.

Help with refugees

The leader also warned against leaving his country to deal with the refugee crisis alone and said Greece would block any EU decision not involving an equal distribution of refugees. The heads of Greece's most prominent political parties and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos were planning to meet on Friday and would discuss Athens' position ahead of the EU-Turkey summit on migrants on March 7, Tsipras announced.

Meanwhile, the situation in Greece continued to worsen after

8,000 refugees gathered at the Macedonian border,

demanding that it be opened. Greek coast guards and boats belonging to the EU's border protection agency, Frontex, rescued 1,272 migrants from drowning in the Aegean Sea. Hundreds of other migrants managed to reach the Greek coast on rubber and wooden boats, the Greek coast guard said.

According to latest data by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, over 120,500 migrants from conflict-ridden countries in Asia and Africa have arrived in Europe.

mg/kms (dpa, AFP)

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