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After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, why did Turkey (i.e. its successor state) retain control of the Empire's Balkan holdings? Considering the historical origins of the Empire Turkey should have gotten its holdings in Anatolia and Asia Minor, while Istanbul and the Balkans should have been given to Greece (after all, Constantinople had been the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire for about a millennium).

Looking at the map now, Turkey literally holds what used to be the territories of the "Byzantines" (I don't like that word myself).

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    Istanbul was the Ottoman capital for centuries. Also, it sits on both sides of the Bosporus. Please explain why you think they should have let go of such a strategic city. – Denis de Bernardy May 5 at 14:57
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    Might be, but I'd say the strategic nature of the Bosphorus pretty much rules out giving it back except by force. What more, isn't Turk the majority ethnic group in that area? – Denis de Bernardy May 5 at 15:02
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    Before the Turks decided to persecute and murder the Greek population there were about 3/5 as many Greeks as Turks iirc. – ANZGC FlyingFalcon May 5 at 15:04
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    Yes, well... Consider taking that argument to its logical conclusion. Would you picture North and South Americans returning to the Old World, and give the whole continent back to Native Americans? After all, they've been there for even less time than the Turks have been in Istanbul. It's just not going to happen. (Plus, see Israel for an example of what happens when you try.) – Denis de Bernardy May 5 at 15:11
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    For argument's sake, one can look at the case of Jerusalem, which the Israelis conquered during a war, but as a gesture returned the most important portions of it to the loser of the war. Perhaps there are other examples of a victor allowing a loser to retain some lost territory – CodyBugstein May 6 at 13:46
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The borders of Turkey were established first by the Treaty of Sevres and then by the Treaty of Lausanne. Turkey lost as a party of WWI, and the negotiations followed. Turkey did not accept the first of the mentioned treaties, and a war followed. Essentially the Turks won this war. The main loosing party was Greece, but the Western Allies did not want to or could not make sufficient effort to win this war. The compromise was achieved and fixed by the treaty of Lausanne.

The great power which wanted Constantinople and surrounding area was Russia which posited itself as a successor of the Byzantine empire. This desire of Russia was actually one of the principal causes of WWI. At some point during the war, the Allies were inclined to give Constantinople to Russia. But Russia was out of the war, and not a "great power" anymore, at the time when the war ended, its own empire collapsed, and there was no strong enough power willing to fight for Constantinople, so the allies agreed to leave it with Turkey. The Greeks were willing to fight but they were defeated. See Magali Idea about original plans of partition of defeated Turkey, after Russia was out of war.

So the short answer on your question: "The Turks fought hard for this territory and won". In fact the very existence of Turkey was in question. How could they win against all odds, is a separate question. But the main reason is that the Western allies had no will to fight in the 1920s, while Russia had more urgent things to worry about. And the Greeks were not strong enough.

Remark. In general, the borders are not established by "what is fair", or what is "reasonable", or "what belongs to whom, historically", or even what is the majority of populations, etc. Borders are the results of wars. At least the Old World borders.

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    Sometimes borders are the results of negotiations and treaties. But you should really emphasize the (im)practical insanity of the "arguing historically" method for borders (despite how often this is done to justify things). – LangLangC May 5 at 16:34
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    +1 especially for the last paragraph. – jamesqf May 5 at 18:24
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    “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.” – Davislor May 6 at 3:36
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    All of the New World's borders are also a result of conquest... – JonathanReez May 8 at 7:27
  • "The Greeks were willing to fight but they were defeated". The Greeks were not willing to fight, their King Constantine I was. "After the elections of 1920 the United Opposition managed to turn the elections into a referendum on the exiled King." – mchar May 8 at 10:16
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Let's look at the map in 1913:

Europe 1913: Aftermath of the Balkan Wars (click for large)
Detail view 1913:
Map centered on Marmar region with labels, 1913
Omniatlas: Europe 1913: Aftermath of the Balkan Wars

Greece according to the Treaty of Sèvres
"Greece according to the Treaty of Sèvres", in Wikipedia: Partition of the Ottoman Empire

These tiny remnants of Rumelia on both maps are not overly meaningfully described as "Empire's Balkan holdings".

The Empire's Balkan holdings, or Rumelia, looked as recently as 1861 more like:

Guillaume Lejean's Ethnic map of European Turkey and its vassal states, 1861

Or even in 1912:

enter image description here

So, after the Great War, Turkey only emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and just held the line at its western border? Compared to its former "Balkan holdings", this is a really tiny strip of land in the historic Marmara region.

During the Turkish War of Independence and especially the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) the chaotically mixed settlement patterns of Greeks, Turks, and 'others' made it not overly convenient to base any considerations for future borders on 'historic precedent', 'rights' or even 'majority populations'.
Contemplating something like "Istanbul and the Balkans should have been given to Greece" – for whatever historical reasons, going back to late antiquity even – would mean that any armchair diplomat proposing such would ignore the past 800 years of historical development and the then present situation on the ground. That is of course great for nationalist expansion and a terrible idea for peace.

To rephrase the initial question:
Q Was there a reason why Turkey retained the rest of the Balkan territories of the Ottoman Empire, instead of adding East-Thrace and Istanbul to Greece or another of the Balkan states?

Yes. The Paris Peace Conference had terrible ideas for the future borders of a post-Ottoman/Turkish state. That caused a war in which the participants wanted to decide the argument with force. Turkey emerged from that war less defeated compared to other prying eyes and was able to largely retain the borders in its West as agreed upon in the concluding Treaty of Lausanne.

The Greek front collapsed with the Turkish counter-attack in August 1922, and the war effectively ended with the recapture of Smyrna by the Turkish forces and the Great fire of Smyrna.

As a result, the Greek government accepted the demands of the Turkish national movement and returned to its pre-war borders, thus leaving East Thrace and Western Anatolia to Turkey.

The Allies abandoned the Treaty of Sèvres to negotiate a new treaty at Lausanne with the Turkish National Movement. The Treaty of Lausanne recognized the independence of the Republic of Turkey and its sovereignty over Asia Minor, Istanbul, and Eastern Thrace. Greek and Turkish governments agreed to engage in a population exchange.
WP: Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922)

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    I think this wouldn't be complete without adding that the population exchange and great fire was an euphemism for civilan Greeks being either burned alive or thrown in the sea in Smyrna. Not really the "wilsonian self-determination". Also borders for Austria and Hungary were even worse, but the allies didn't move nevertheless. – Bregalad May 6 at 19:44
  • @Bregalad That's right. Although I don't want to pick sides here. Both sides & the Great Powers behaved barbaric. And even today the remaining Turks in West Thrace are to be called "Greek Muslims". The enduring perils of nationalism. What a great idea to make a mess. – LangLangC May 6 at 20:03
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    I'm not taking sides either - just describing exactly what happened instead of using euphemism. For some reason using euphemism is unacceptable for the holocaust but acceptable for other similar historical events, God knowns why... And yeah this was in a time where acting barbaric became the norm. – Bregalad May 6 at 20:05
  • @Bregalad - It looks to me like the population exchange followed the Greek genocide (that being burned alive and thrown into the sea that you mentioned). Although the population exchange seems to have killed a number of people, too, so it could be considered a continuation. That latter bit, the Greek genocide, seems to have included the Great Fire of Smyrna but not been limited to it. It's a separate event, though still related. – Obie 2.0 May 7 at 1:14
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    Hey, this Omniatlas thing is really amazing ! I love it ! – Bregalad May 7 at 10:02

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