(AP) ATHENS, Greece — Protesters took over the Finance Ministry building in Athens Friday morning, hanging a giant banner from the roof calling for a general strike, just as Greece wraps up tough negotiations with international officials on new austerity measures.
About 200 protesters from the communist party-backed PAME union blockaded the entrance to the ministry from dawn, preventing employees from entering. They hung a banner over five stories of the front of the building and took down the European flag from the top of the ministry, replacing it with their own union flag.
They said they would continue the blockade for the entire day. Ministry staff were working from a separate building, an official said.
The protest came as experts from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund were wrapping up a review of Greece's implementation of economic reforms in return for euro110 billion ($159.06 billion) in rescue loans from the EU and IMF.
The three bodies, known collectively as the troika, were to issue a statement on their review later Friday, officials said. The review is crucial towards determining whether Greece will receive a fifth tranche, worth euro12 billion, of bailout loans agreed last year.
Greece has so far received euro53 billion from its rescue deal since it first started tapping into the bailout package in May 2010.
Prime Minister George Papandreou was heading to Luxembourg later Friday for emergency talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, who is head of the group of 17 eurozone finance ministers as well as Luxembourg's prime minister. Juncker recently criticized Greece for being slow in cutting debt and reforming the public sector.