Support for non-Greeks in flag row

After several student protests against foreign classmates carrying the Greek flag on October 28 parades, political and Church leaders yesterday sought to put the matter to bed, coming down firmly on the side of non-Greek schoolchildren. Referring to respect for human rights and the Greek Constitution, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou was adamant that schoolchildren of other nationalities had a legal right to carry the flag on parades during national holidays. «The law is explicit and categorical. The flag not only honors the bearer but Greek tradition dictates that the best student holds the flag,» said Giannakou. She said the government had no intention of changing the law. Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, where students are staging protests against an Albanian classmate carrying the flag, also defended the right of non-Greeks to bear the flag. «Since the children are studying at Greek schools, they have the same rights as Greek students,» said Anthimos. «We must all be friends in the same neighborhood, do the best for our people and not be ruled by rampant nationalism,» he added.