Pope Francis believes in success of Ukraine in the negotiations for a just peace, he prays for Ukraine and supports the Ukrainian peace formula.

By Yurii Sheliazhenko, World BEYOND War

Pope Francis was right when he said in an interview to a Swiss journalist that it would be a show of courage and strength for Ukraine to raise the white flag and start negotiations with the help of international powers to cease fire and achieve a just and lasting peace. In fact, this is the essence of President Zelenskyy’s Ukrainian peace formula: humanism and common sense are stronger than the brutal cruelty of Russian aggression. That is why the inaugural peace summit will be held in Switzerland, to start a peace process with international help, to which in the future the aggressor state may join, — provided if the Kremlin is ready to raise the white flag! The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, stated this at a press conference in Kyiv and repeated it at a press conference with the President of Turkey, Recep Erdogan.

pope Francis

We condemn the false interpretations of the Vatican’s position, which are used by militarists in a shameful information war in order to discredit President Zelenskyy’s Ukrainian peace formula under the pretext of criticizing the Pope’s words and to impose a militaristic ideology on society: diplomacy is allegedly the way to defeat, mass murder is allegedly the way to victory.

The words of Pope Francis were manipulatively interpreted by cynical “strategic communicators” as a call for capitulation and lack of belief in Ukraine’s victory. But this interpretation is the complete opposite of what the Pope actually said. The reporter asked the Pope a controversial question about his attitude to rumors about superiority of the aggressor state, calls for surrender and warnings against such calls. The reporter used the expression “white flag” as a symbol of surrender. In response, Pope Francis explained that raising the white flag means starting negotiations, and it allows you to strengthen your position diplomatically after military failures. The Pope rightly emphasized that the stronger one is the one who sees the situation, who thinks of the people and seeks to avoid many deaths and worsening situation. Pope Francis believes in success of Ukraine in the negotiations for a just peace, he prays for Ukraine and supports the Ukrainian peace formula.

But maybe it’s not about the manipulations of militarists who dream of a military dictatorship? Maybe diplomacy was falsely equated with surrender simply because of ignorance that the white flag does not mean surrender, but the parliamentarian’s intention to negotiate under the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land? Maybe it is simply because of the lack of a culture of peace, and not because of the desire to suppress the culture of peace for the sake of military rule in society, that a false stereotype is spreading and prevailing in our country that a white flag means surrender? I would like to believe in this naive explanation. But in reality, the Ukrainian military knows very well what the white flag means. According to the Instruction on the procedure for the implementation of norms of international humanitarian law in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, approved by the order of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine: “The white flag indicates the intention of the people who raised it to start negotiations with the opposite side, it does not mean surrender.”

Unfortunately, Ukrainian society turned out to be vulnerable to militaristic manipulations due to the weakly developed culture of peace in Ukraine. For decades, instead of a peaceful civic education worthy of a democratic society, Ukraine maintained a communist totalitarian “military-patriotic upbringing” like the one that is now helping the Putin regime drive people to their deaths for the sake of imperialist ambitions. Because of this remnant of the Soviet Union military machine, people blindly trust the army and place their best hopes on the Armed Forces of Ukraine, ignoring the soft power and crucial role of civil society, of civilians in politics and the economy.

Although Ukrainian society longs for democracy and expressed in a poll opposition to military dictatorship, people under the influence of militaristic indoctrination in the education system, mass media and largely militarized institutions of civil society are ready to tolerate militarism – the supremacy of the military in society as “defenders” of the state, constant and systematic violations of human rights, legal nihilism of the army, security and law enforcement agencies. We need the reformation of civil society, peace education and mobilization of peace movements to involve more civilian Ukrainians into nonviolent resistance to Russian aggression and the protection of democracy in Ukraine, ensuring real democratic civilian control in the sphere of security and defense. We must understand that true national security is based on full legal protection of human rights, the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully, and democratic civilian governance.