When the fighting ended in 1922 and the diplomats drew the boundaries of modern-day Turkey, a group of people whose heritage is that of the Ottoman Empire found themselves citizens of Greece.
Protected by treaty, the Moslem minority in Ihrace, Greece's northeastern panhandle, traces its history here to the 15th century. Never subjected to Kemal Ataturk's 1923 revolution, their way of life has been described as more akin to the Ottoman Empire of a hundred years ago than to those of today's Greece and Turkey.
Concentrated in this frontier town 70 miles from the Turkish border, and in Xanthi, farther West, this 120,000-member community is a potential political issue that Ankara is "holding in reserve" in its continuing friction with Athens, according to diplomatic sources.
"At the moment, it's in abeyance," said a Western official. "But, as part and parcel of a Greek-Turkish settlement, it could be raised any day."
On the streets of Komotini, women dress in the long, black caftans of the days of the sultans. Flowing black shawls cover their heads. The men wear the same bloused trousers high leather boots or stockings of their forefathers. Their status is clearl emblazoned by the color and contour of their traditional fez.
Such dress is outlawed by decree in modern Turkey, as are many of the habits, the Arabic script and religious practices still commonly practiced here. The mufti, or head of the Islamic order, wields considerable power. Family law continues to be based on the Koran and children are given Moslem names.
An inbred and suspicious community - 68 per cent are of Turkish origin, 22 per cent are "Pomaks" and 10 per cent gypsies - the Moslems of Thrace have not brooked any change.
They have their own schools and four daily newspapers; 257 mosques do the Thracian skyline, and Greek radio beams a daily news bulletin in Turkish. Although they are said to be bi-lingual, a member of parliament from the nearby town of Alexandroupolis, Yiannis Papadopoulos, charges that lately they have refused to speak Greek, and often arrive at courts and public offices with translators.
Although they are Greek citizens, serve in the Greek army and have two deputies in Parliament - both sworn in on the Koran - the Moslems of Thrace have maintained a distinctly Turkish character and culture.
Many local officials are thus concerned about their underlying loyalties. Do they feel Turkish or Greek?
"We are Greek citizens of Turkish origin," said Haci Hafiz Ali Galip Sabahaddin, a member of Parliament. "As you speak of Greek-Americans, perhaps it's most correct to call us Turco-Greeks."
One of those who circulates freely within the two worlds of this dusty, windswept community, Galip, 53, is now serving his third parliamentary term. Constituents flock to his Komotini office, to those of the 14 Turkish mayors in the area and to the office of Yasar Mehmet Memetoglou, Galip's parliamentary colleague.
Their specific complaints are that they are restricted from buying property, and can only sell to a Christian Greek; that they do not have qualified Turkish teachers in their 297 elementary schools and two high schools; and that they are not permitted to elect their own Turkish community councils.
Greek authorities deny the charges and say there is no discrimination against the Turks.
"It would certainly help us understand them if they brought their problems to the local authorities," a Greek official said. "But they don't go to the mayor, to the prefect, to the local government. In their minds, the local authority is the mufti and the Turkish consulate."
The mere presence of the consulate, with its first-rate diplomats, is itself controversial to the Greeks. They fear that the eight-man staff is politizing the Moslem minority.
After citing six Moslem religious and professional organizations, including two increasingly active youth groups, Papadopoulos said: "I hope you realize that the purpose of these organizations is not to play football."
Beyond the new generation, however, 90 per cent of the Moslems are farmers, owning much of the richest land of Thrace.Their per-capita income, according to Greek figures, is therefore 17 per cent higher than the farmers of the panhandle who are Christian Greeks.
There is growing concern among Moslem officials, however, that an industrial zone now being established in the area, a new university nearby and a land-reform program now being implementated will lead to the expropriation of some of their richest land.
Despite their wealth in land holdings, the literacy rate of the Moslems here is well below average. Going into their section of the city is to enter a world forgotten for a hundred years.
Donkeys pull wooden carts piled high with produce along the labyrinthine, cobblestone streets. Old men smoke water-pipes along the baked earthern walkways. Women peer from behind heavy curtains. Except in groups going to the market, few of them are seen on the streets.
Their houses are small, adobe-like structures, the orange-tiled roofs now turning brown. Despite the seeming poverty of the quarter, however, television antennas abound. As opposed to the Greek quarter, where two antennas are atop each house, in the Turkish quarter, four spring from each rooftop and they are pointed toward Turkey.The shows originating in Ankara are the most popular in this part of town.
Perhaps the only area in which the two worlds mingle is the cluttered market, where the small shops of Christians and Moslems are built one into another and merchants coexist happily and competively, hawking their various wares.
"Things are beginning to change, however," said accountant Tassos Ioannou, many of whose clients are Turks. "More Moslems are being educated, and there's a growing white-colar class. There are at least 15 Moslem lawyers, doctors, other professionals now in Komotini. The young people are beginning to break out of their isolation by attending movies, theater, watching television. All of this must have an impact."
But education is one of the most sensitive problems in this community, whose population is divided almost equally between Turks and Greeks.
Turkish leaders charge that the level of their schools is inferior. Greek officials do not dispute the claim.
"If the Moslems are interested in quality education," said one Greek official, "then they should attend Greek schools. Do Greek-Americans have their own schools? Live within a completely closed society? It's an abnormal situation . . . Completely absurd. The doors of our schools are open, but we can't push it. we can't even suggest they come. If we did, Ankara would charge that we're trying to adulterate their heritage and traditions.
"The central government in Athens has no policy on the minority. Therefore, even on the most elementary level, we cannot urge them to assimilate."