New rallies planned in Greece over Macedonian name dispute

Activists wanting the Greek government to take a tough stance with Macedonia over the latter country's name are planning rallies in the birthplace of Alexander the Great and a dozen more towns in northern Greece.

Organizers say Wednesday's gatherings in Pella and elsewhere are meant to show that residents of Greece's Macedonia province are "in a state of alert" over the negotiations between the Greek and Macedonia governments.

Since Macedonia gained independence in the early 1990s, Greece has maintained the republic's name implies claims on its province and on the heritage of ancient Greek Macedonia, of which Alexander was king. The dispute has hampered Macedonia's efforts to join NATO and the European Union.

The two countries say they are nearing a solution. Rally organizers called Monday for any agreement to be put to a referendum.