Greek hardliners stage rallies over Macedonia name dispute

Thousands of protesters have gathered near the birthplace of Alexander the Great to demand that the Greek government take a tough stance with neighboring Macedonia over that country's name.

The rally in the village of Pella is among 25 organized across the country Wednesday by hardliners opposing any use of the name Macedonia by Greece's small northern neighbor.

The two countries have said negotiations launched this year are nearing a solution to the 27-year name dispute. But a Greek official warned last week that prospects for a deal materializing within days were receding.

Athens says the name Macedonia implies claims on its northern province of Macedonia. Skopje denies that.

Rally participant Eugenia Sarrigiannidou says she hopes the protest will harden Greece's official position in negotiations with Macedonia.