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Tuesday, 19 March 2024 10:42

EU Leftist Leader Says 'Time to Negotiate' End to Ukraine War

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People with umbrellas go down into an underground passage in Kyiv, on March 18, 2024, amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine. (Photo by Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)


VOInews, Jakarta: The head of the EU's main leftist political grouping has said it is time to "negotiate" an end to Russia's war in Ukraine, rallying behind a controversial call by Pope Francis for Kyiv to raise the "white flag."


"I believe helping the Ukrainian people means now making attempts to end the war," said Walter Baier, the 70-year-old Austrian picked last month by the Party of the European Left as its candidate to head the next European Commission.


Baier underlined that his party -- whose 26 full members include Germany's Die Linke, France's Communists and Greece's Syriza -- had "absolutely condemned the Russian aggression" in its manifesto for June's European elections.


But in a joint interview Monday with the "European Newsroom," which brings together news agencies including AFP, he said the conflict's "frozen" fronts required a new approach.


"I would wish from the European Union... to take diplomatic efforts to start negotiations to achieve a ceasefire and to achieve the withdrawal of the Russian troops," Baier said.


"In this regard, I fully support what Pope Francis was saying. Now it's the time to end the war, and now it's the time to negotiate and stop killing," said the former head of Austria's communist party.


In an interview broadcast earlier this month, the Argentine pontiff urged Kyiv, which has been fighting invading Russian forces for more than two years, to "raise the white flag and negotiate".


The Ukrainian government reacted with fury, even while the Vatican insisted the words "white flag" were intended to mean a cessation of hostilities, not a surrender.


Analysts see no immediate prospect of negotiations to find a breakthrough in the Ukraine war, with Russia's Vladimir Putin emboldened by the erosion of Western support for Kyiv -- while Ukraine is determined to keep fighting to recapture territory.


The Party of the European Left is the larger of two leftist formations in the European Parliament -- along with Now the People whose members include Spain's Podemos and France Unbowed.


Both are part of the 37-strong group of lawmakers called The Left in the EU parliament -- where polls point to a surge by far-right movements following June's vote across the 27-nation bloc.


The EU parliament currently has 705 seats, which will increase to 720 seats after the 2024 elections.


Source: AFP

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