Flag row revives as Odhise still tops class

Three years after their campaign to stop a top-performing Albanian schoolboy carrying Greece’s flag in a school parade, a group of northern villagers yesterday said they would force their children to boycott this year’s event unless foreign pupils are banned from flag-bearing duty. Odhise Qena, now 18, is entitled to carry the flag again during the October 26 school parade at Nea Michaniona, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Thessaloniki, having scored the highest marks in his class. In 2000, he had bowed out under intense pressure from his classmates’ parents who objected to an Albanian flag-bearer. Many Greeks had rallied to his side, including President Costis Stephanopoulos and Education Minister Petros Efthymiou. Nea Michaniona parents have now written to Efthymiou urging the repeal of a law allowing foreign flagbearers, threatening to keep their children from parading.