EU diplomacy chief comments on remarks about "white flag" for Ukraine: Pope has entered garden where no one invited him

Thursday, 14 March 2024

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has commented on the Pope's remarks urging Ukraine to have the "courage of the white flag" and be ready to negotiate with Russia.

Asked to comment on the Pope's remarks, the EU's diplomacy chief said in an interview with state-owned Spanish public radio and television service RTVE that he had briefly touched upon them in his speech to the UN Security Council earlier in the week.

"And in that speech, I myself did not hesitate to say that His Holiness the Pope has entered a garden to which no one invited him," Borrell said, using a Spanish idiom meaning "to bring trouble on yourself."

Borrell added that he believes it is wrong to "invite Ukraine to surrender. On the contrary, it is time to keep helping it," the European diplomat stressed.


On 9 March, Reuters reported that 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. The Vatican later clarified the Pope’s words, stressing that he called for a ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations, not the surrender of Ukraine.

The Pope’s comment has sparked a wide response and has drawn much criticism.

In response to Pope Francis’s statement, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski said that the Pope should address Russian President Vladimir Putin and urge him to withdraw his occupation forces from Ukraine. Peter Stano, spokesperson for the European Commission, stressed at a briefing in Brussels that peace lies in the hands of one person - Vladimir Putin, who instead continues to wage war every day.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to Pope Francis’s suggestion by saying that Ukraine’s flag is yellow and blue, not white.

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