Pope Encourages Ukraine to Embrace the 'Courage of the White Flag' in Negotiations



It was in an interview that Pope Francis expressed his belief that Ukraine should have what he referred to as the "white flag" of courage and negotiate an end to the war with Russia that began two years ago after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This war has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Francis made his remarks in an interview that was recorded with Swiss broadcaster RSI a month ago. This interview took place far before the most recent invitation made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to organize a conference between Russia and Ukraine in an effort to bring an end to the conflict.

An additional offer was made by Erdogan following a meeting that took place in Istanbul with his colleague from Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Zelenskiy has stated that he will not give up any territory, despite the fact that he desires peace.

The peace plan that was developed by the Ukrainian leader demands for the complete withdrawal of Russian soldiers from the entirety of Ukraine and the reestablishment of the country's state borders. The Kremlin has stated that it will not participate in peace negotiations on the parameters decided upon by Kyiv.

An immediate response from a spokesperson for Zelenskiy was not received in response to a request for comment on the remarks made by the pope.

Francis was asked for his opinion on a debate that was taking place between those who believe that Ukraine ought to give up since it has not been able to repel Russian forces and those who believe that doing so would legitimize actions taken by the political party that is currently in the strongest position. An example of the term "white flag" was used by the interviewer in the question.

Francis was quoted as saying, "It is one interpretation, that is true," according to an advance text of the interview and a portion of the video that was made available to Reuters on Saturday. The 20th of March is the day that it is scheduled to be televised as a part of a new cultural program.

Francis stated, "But I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people, and has the courage of the white flag and negotiates," and he went on to say that negotiations have to take place with the assistance of international powers.

There is a lot of bravery involved in the term "negotiate." According to Francis, "you need to have the courage to negotiate when you realize that you are defeated and that things are not going well."

It is believed that this was the first occasion that Francis had used phrases such as "white flag" or "defeated" in reference to the conflict in Ukraine; nevertheless, he has previously shown his understanding of the importance of engaging in negotiations.

Matteo Bruni, a spokesperson for the Vatican, issued a statement in which he stated that the pope had caught up on the term "white flag" that was spoken by the interviewer and used it "to indicate a stop to hostilities (and) a truce achieved with the courage of negotiations."

In the previous year, Pope Francis, who is 87 years old, dispatched an Italian Cardinal named Matteo Zuppi to Kyiv, Moscow, and Washington in order to make contact with the heads of state in those nations.

"One may feel shame," Francis said in reference to the negotiation process, "but how many dead will it (the war) end up with as a result?" Francis mentioned Turkey as one of the countries that had offered to act as a mediator. "It is important to negotiate in a timely manner and locate a country that can act as a mediator," he added.

It is Francis, who has made hundreds of appeals for what he refers to as "martyred Ukraine," who stated, "Do not be ashamed of negotiating, before things get worse." "I am here," Francis responded when he was asked if he was willing to act as a mediator.

During another portion of the interview, Francis made the following statement in reference to the conflict between Israel and Hamas: "Negotiating is never a surrender."

Since the Russian invasion in February 2022, Zelenskiy stated that 31,000 Ukrainian military had been slain, and that tens of thousands of civilians had been killed in the seized areas of the Ukraine. This information was brought to light by Zelenskiy in the previous month.

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