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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Libya:US committed,Cypriot effort,Greek proposal;Kosovo request;UN "offensive"?;Pirates attack;Spiritual Struggle

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton assured NATO allies on Thursday that Washington was prepared to do what it takes to ensure the success of NATO's mission in Libya and called on U.S. partners in Europe and elsewhere to boost pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down from power. Clinton is in Berlin for two days of NATO meetings hoping to bridge differences over how the alliance should proceed in the Libya operation.

Cyprus' foreign minister Markos Kyprianou has stressed efforts must continue to find peace in Libya during talks with his Libyan counterpart Thursday, despite the failure of an African Union proposal and said he had proposed "some ideas" to end the crisis during his one-hour meeting with Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, but did not provide details. Kyprianou said al-Obeidi reaffirmed his government's commitment to a peace initiative proposed by the African Union recently, the call for an end to hostilities and continued co-operation on humanitarian assistance. Libyan rebels rejected the AU proposal because it did not say Moammar Gadhafi must relinquish power. Kyprianou also stressed to al-Obeidi the need for an immediate cease-fire by all sides and to protect the civilian population. He also said that Libya's unity and territorial integrity must be safeguarded per European Union positions.

Greece has offered to act as a hub for humanitarian aid to Libya once the United Nations begins its efforts to get supplies to citizens in the war-torn country, it has emerged. Crete would be used to ferry humanitarian assistance to Libya. Sources said that UN Secretary General has agreed to Greece’s proposal. Greece supports a political solution to the battle between Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s regime and the rebels. Athens is currently allowing foreign fighter jets to use two bases in Greece to take part in the NATO-led operation to maintain a no-fly zone over Libya.

During a recent visit to Greece, Hajredin Kuçi [Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice], met with Ioannis-Alexios Zeppos, State Secretary in the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry Ioannis-Alexios Zeppos. During the meeting, Kuçi asked that the Greek Government recognize an independent Kosovo, as well as for a reduction of insurance taxes for Kosovo cars entering Greece. According to a press released issued by Kuçi, it was reported that Zeppos said he would make efforts to help Kosovo in regard to the conversation topics.

The United Nations appears to be working hard to shed its duck-and-cover image -- deploying attack helicopters in Ivory Coast, backing rebels in Libya and lecturing Middle Eastern leaders on how to govern. But diplomats and analysts say it is unclear whether the unusually aggressive recent U.N. approach to some of the conflicts on its agenda indicates a metamorphosis into a tougher, more pro-active world body or just a brief phase. One expert said that the United Nations Secretary General is "more confident on human rights issues, and the Security Council finally living up to its responsibility to protect civilians at risk of mass atrocities, the U.N. appears stronger and has set new standards that it will need to uphold more consistently around the world." The new burst of U.N. assertiveness, during which Ban and Western council members have repeatedly invoked the doctrine of the "responsibility to protect," has left some analysts wondering why the United Nations has not taken a similar approach to other smoldering conflicts on its agenda, which include Western Sahara, Cyprus and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Maybe, as one council diplomat suggested, market relevance helped motivate action in Libya - oil and gas - and Ivory Coast - cocoa and coffee.

According to a new report, in the first three months of 2011, piracy may be at an all-time high. There have been 142 pirate attacks worldwide, with 97 of the attacks from off the coast of Somalia. During these attacks, 18 vessels were hijacked and 344 crew members were taken hostage, seven crew members have been killed and 34 injured. One of the deadly attacks occurred in February when four Americans were killed after Somali pirates hijacked their 58-foot yacht off the coast of Oman. U.S. prosecutors announced this week that they had indicted a man believed to be one of the leaders of that pirate attack.

Saint Hesychius give this advice on our struggle to overcome the passions: One who is engaged in the spiritual struggle must have at every moment the following four things: humility, extreme attentiveness, refutation (of the thoughts) and prayer. Humility, in so far as its adversaries in combat are the demons of pride, so that he will have at hand Christ's help in his heart, for ' the Lord resists the proud.' (James 4:6; 1Peter 5:5) Attentiveness, so that one does not allow the heart to have any thought, no matter how good it seems. Denial, so that as soon as one has detected a thought that has come, he may repulse it immediately with anger. Prayer, so that after refuting a thought, one may immediately cry out to Christ with 'groanings which cannot be uttered' (Romans 8:26) Then the ascetic will see the enemy bound or chased by the honorable name of Jesus, like dust by the wind, or like smoke that vanishes with it's dreams. Saint Hesychius adds the following on the importance of prayer: One who does not have prayer that is free from the thoughts is without a weapon for battle. I understand prayer to be that which is carried unceasingly within the depths of the soul, so that the enemy who is secretly fighting may be vanquished and scorched by this invocation to Christ. For you must look with the sharply focused eye of the mind so that you will recognize what has entered into it, and after doing so, immediately cut off the head of the snake through refutation, and at the same time call on Christ with groaning. Through experience you will come to know God's invisible help; then you will see clearly the true condition of the heart. Saint Theophan advises in his commentary on the teaching of Saint Hesychius: A person whose decision to belong to the Lord is sincere cannot by-pass the path described. He may preform great labors and get around things in various ways, but until he comes upon this path, it is to no purpose. I am pointing you directly to the path so that you do not wander all over the place. Be more diligent in your undertaking, and you will find success. However, you must labor with all your might, because without labor there will be nothing.