CULTURE

As Isocrates said, ‘Greeks are those who have a Greek education’

The best pupil from each school carries the flag in the October 28 Ochi [«No»] Day parades held all over Greece to commemorate the 1940-41 Greek-Italian war. That is the law and it never raised eyebrows until three years ago. That was when foreign-born pupils began becoming the top students of their schools. Most of them are Albanians whose parents live and work in Greece. In many remote areas, parents objected, as did pupils, who occupied their schools in protest, and the Albanian pupils relinquished their right to carry the flag. The same occurred this year, on a smaller scale, with «no» being said, not to the invader but to a top pupil at a Thessaloniki school, who deemed it an honor to carry the flag in the parade. Education Minister Marietta Giannakou put an end to the debate, stating that the matter would proceed «according to the law.» Since top pupils are to carry the flag, whoever is a top pupil, be they Greek or foreign – Albanian, Russian or from anywhere else – would carry the flag. As Isocrates said: «Greeks are those who have a Greek education.» The director of the school, and not pupils or parents, is responsible for compliance with this law. So the matter ends there. As the ’40s generation which is currently in power in Greece does not have the same experience of war, scenes of victory and slavery; xenophobia and bigotry have no place in contemporary Greece. How true! And so, in a few years time, when Turkey is a member of the European Union, Turkish pupils in Greek schools will be allowed by law to raise the banner of the 1821 Greek struggle for independence from the Turks.