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Pope tells Ukraine to have "courage of the white flag"

Saturday, 9 March 2024, 20:05
Pope tells Ukraine to have courage of the white flag
Pope Francis. Stock photo: Getty Images

Pope Francis said in an interview this February that Ukraine should have what he called the courage of the "white flag" and negotiate an end to the war with Russia.

Source: Reuters, citing Pope Francis’s interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI

Details: Pope Francis made his comments in an interview recorded last month. Reuters obtained the transcript of the interview and part of the video. The interview will be broadcast on 20 March.


Pope Francis was asked where he stands on the debates between those who believe that Ukraine has to surrender because it has not been able to repel Russian forces, and those who believe that this position legitimises Russia’s actions. The interviewer used the term "white flag" in posing his question.

Quote from Pope Francis: "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 [...]

The word negotiate is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate."


Details: Pope Francis added that international actors should be involved in the negotiations.

Reuters reported that this was the first time Pope Francis has used terms such as "white flag" or "defeated" in discussing the war in Ukraine, even though he has spoken about the need for negotiations in the past.

"One may feel shame, but how many dead will it [the war] end up with? [One should] negotiate in time, find a country that can be a mediator," the Pope said, mentioning that Türkiye had offered to perform this role.

"Do not be ashamed of negotiating, before things get worse," Pope Francis said. Asked if he was willing to mediate, he said "I am here."

In another part of the interview, speaking of the war between Israel and Hamas, Pope Francis said: "Negotiating is never a surrender."

Spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has not responded to Reuters’ request for a comment regarding the Pope’s statement at the time of publication. 

Background: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again suggested his country as a platform for negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, including for a "peace summit" with the participation of Russia.

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