First of all, i must make clear that FYROMians have nothing to do with the real Macedonians and Alexander the great who were Greeks. FYROMians are Slavs and as we know the Slavs came in the Greek peninsula 1000 years after Alexander's age !
Here is a statement of the FYROMian first ever president kiro Gligorov where he admits "we are Slavs, we came to Balkan peninsula in 6 century , we are not related to Alexander the great"
(he speaks Slavic + Greek subs).
So, why this Slavic population picked a new name some 50 -70 years ago?
During the Middle ages the situation was far more simple. FYROM was the very heart of the great Bulgarian state which was reconquered by the Greek Byzantines under the emperor Basil II. No doubt that the Slavic population of FYROM has Bulgarian ancestors.
Five centuries later, when the Byzantine empire collapsed, the two Slavic nations of the Balkan peninsula, namely the Serbs and the Bulgarians were conquered by the Ottoman Turks like Greeks a Little earlier. The two Slavic nations Lived for almost 5 centuries under ottoman dominion in a
situation where the national consciousness had been severely weakened. This was more apparent in the region of modern FYROM where the two Slavic nations shared borders and a mixed dialect, neither pure Bulgarian nor Serbian, was appeared.
In 1912 during the First Balkan war, Ottoman empire was defeated and although the Slavic inhabitants of the region were far more close to Bulgaria than Serbia, the region was liberated by Serbians and became part of Serbia (and then Yugoslavia) . This was not helpful to FYROMians national awareness and as they feel they was not Serbs, they started to search for a new national identity. Serbs had not problem with that. They were just happy FYROMians not to consider themselves Bulgarians!!!! And not only that. Tito, the Yugoslavian leader encouraged further the creation of a new national identity by naming the province of modern Fyrom, province of Macedonia.
Why they picked the name Macedonia? The myth of Alexander the great is compelling and strong not only among the Greeks but in many parts of the world. And Fyromians were so close to the real Macedonia. They could touch the myth and build a new strong identity instantly. They were nothing at that time living in an area with ancient peoples like Serbians and Bulgarians, more ancient like Albanians and the most influential nation in the western civilization, the Greeks. They were nothing and the wanted to be something. The name Macedonia, ancient and strong was so attractive.....
I understand why they need a national identity so desperately. I sympathize. No one population can live without such an identity. But there are so many other new nations in the world, and some like them, extremely new, that they didn't use a lie to identify themselves!
+ some comments on misunderstandings
1)"including the homeland of Alexander's mother, were quite clearly non-Greek"
In the reality, his mother was from Hiperos, a clearly Greek region. The most ancient Greek oracle (oracle of Dodoni) was there.
2)"and most Greeks did not think of the rest of them as truly Greek"
Really? Macedonians were accepted to participate in Olympic games. No one barbarian was allowed there.
3)"Philip of Macedon parts of the country he conquered were quite clearly non-Greek"
This is true but it doesn't mean that there is more than one Macedonia. For instance, Athenians controlled for a while Sicily and west Asia Minor. Isn't it preposterous for someone to speak today for "Sicilian Athens" or "Asian Athens" etc etc ????? I mean what matters if Macedonians controlled some no Greek areas for 30 -40 years?
4)Another example to see what we are talking about.
Imagine that, a Slavic population near Germany succeeds in gaining independence from Poland. They need a new identity so they decide to call themselves "Berliners" after the German capital. Then they start to say that " Berliners" was an ancient nation completely distinguished from Germany and Germans (!!!) and that Berlin is currently under German occupation and must be liberated (!!!). They also claim that Friedrich the great was not German but a "Berliner" (!!!). I would imagine that Germans would try to explain to that disorientated nation that Berlin is nothing more than a geographical term, and that "Berliner nation" never existed as never existed Athenian or Macedonian nation.
Naturally, they would insist that Friedrich the great was German and there is only one Berlin, not German Berlin, Eastern Berlin or anything else just because Friedrich had conquered some non German areas in the distant past.
5)@ iansand "Contemporary Greeks hated Phillip and Alexander" .Demosthenes Hated Phillip and Alexander not the Greeks. Have you ever heard the name Isocrates? He was the Athenian politician who had the dream that all Greeks, will be united under Philip or Alexander to punish "the enemies of Greece". It was his dream that contemporary Greeks eventually followed.