Quarter of EU population has long-term disability

             By Gokhan Ergocun</p>    <p>ISTANBUL (AA) - Some 25 percent of all EU population has suffered long-term disabilities as of end of 2017, EU’s statistical office said on Monday</p>    <p>This population felt some or severe limitations in performing everyday activities for a period of six months or longer, according to Eurostat.</p>    <p>It said: &quot;Across the EU Member States in 2017, the lowest proportions of self-perceived long-standing disabilities were reported in Malta (12 percent) and Sweden (13), and the highest in Latvia (41), Slovenia (36) and Estonia (35).

Women with long-term disability represented 27 percent while 22 percent was for men in the year, according to Eurostat data.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been contributing to raise awareness of the disability since 1992.

The World Bank said that 1 billion people — 15 percent of the world's population — had disabilities in the world.

Poor nutrition, education and health care deficiency, unsafe working conditions, the environment pollution, and lack of access to safe water and sanitation are important causes of the disability, according to the World Bank.

"Disability may increase the risk of poverty, through lack of employment and education opportunities, lower wages, and increased cost of living with a disability," the bank said.

Slovenia appoints first female army chief

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Slovenia Tuesday appointed its first-ever female army chief, also the only woman in charge of a NATO country's military.

Maj. Gen. Alenka Ermenc, 55, will officially take the reins of the Slovenian Armed Forces from her predecessor Alan Geder in a ceremony on Wednesday.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor expressed his belief that Ermenc will help strengthen the nation’s military capabilities.

Ermenc last week was promoted to general, also the first Slovenian woman to reach that rank.

Ermenc has served in the army since 1991, the year Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. She studied at the Royal College of Defence Studies and King’s College University, both in London.

EU: House prices up 4.3 pct in Q2

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – House prices in the European Union rose at an annual clip of 4.3 percent this April-June, the EU's statistical office said on Friday.

Eurostat said the House Price Index (HPI) value in the second quarter of this year was the same for both the euro area and the EU28.

The eurozone/euro area or EA19 represents member states that use the single currency — the euro — while the EU28 includes all member countries of the bloc.

Among all member countries, the highest annual increase in house prices was seen in Slovenia, up 13.4 percent, followed by Ireland, Portugal, and Hungary.

Eurostat noted that over the same period house prices fell in Sweden and Italy by 1.7 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

On a quarterly basis, house prices surged 1.4 percent in both the eurozone and the EU28 in the second quarter of 2018, the statistical office noted.

The HPI covers the price changes of all residential properties purchased by households — newly built and existing flats, detached houses, terraced houses, etc.

CORRECTS – Basketball: Turkey beat Slovenia in European qualifiers

CORRECTS 3RD PAR. TO MONTENEGRO DEFEATS UKRAINE 90-84

By Fatih Erel

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey defeated Slovenia 86-77 Monday in the second round of the 2019 FIBA European qualifier in Ljubljana.

Furkan Korkmaz was Turkey’s top scorer with 24 points, followed by Scottie Wilbekin with 22 points. Cedi Osman added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

In other matches in Group I, Spain beat Latvia 85-82 and Montenegro defeated Ukraine 90-84.

The top three teams from the group will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup to be held Aug. 31 – Sept. 15 in China.

Trump in-laws sworn in as US citizens

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump's in-laws became American citizens Thursday, raising questions about whether they used an immigration program the president is seeking to scuttle to achieve American citizenship.

Immigration attorney Michael Wildes confirmed Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Melania Trump's parents, were sworn in during a brief private naturalization ceremony in Manhattan.

“We just thank everybody for their attention to this very important dialogue that we’re having on immigration,” Wildes said. "This is a very important example of it going right.”

Wildes confirmed in February that the couple were permanent U.S. residents.

Asked after Thursday's ceremony if the Knavs', who are from Slovenia, used so-called "chain migration," or immigration to the U.S. based on a familial relation, to receive their citizenship, Wildes said "I suppose. It’s a dirty — a dirtier word,” according to the New York Times.

“It stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification,” Wildes said.

That "bedrock" has been a focus of the president's ire.

Trump has repeatedly called for the program to be ended on national security grounds, saying it is a "disaster" and seeking to limit individuals who can become citizens based on a familial relation to spouses and minor children.

"Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives," Trump said during his State of the Union address in January.

First lady Melania Trump's office did not immediately respond to Anadolu Agency's request for comment.

More congratulations from abroad for Turkey's Erdogan

By Hatice Senses Kurukiz and

ISTANBUL (AA) – Over a week since Turkey’s landmark June 24 elections, congratulatory messages for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continue to pour in from abroad.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor congratulated Erdogan in a telephone call, according to presidential sources.

Additionally, Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of Iraq's Sairoon coalition and prominent Shia cleric, congratulated the Turkish president for his victory in the elections on the phone.

Al-Sadr's Sairoon coalition dominated Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary poll, winning 54 parliamentary seats, according to official results.

Since the announcement of Erdogan's win in the June 24 polls, many world leaders and prominent figures have sent messages or letters to congratulate Erdogan, or telephoned him.

According to Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK), Erdogan won an absolute majority in the presidential election with 52.5 percent of the vote.

In the parliamentary polls, the People's Alliance of Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) won 53.6 percent of the vote.

Europol arrests 12 in anti-human smuggling operation

By Abdullah Asiran

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AA) – The EU police agency Europol said Thursday that 12 people were arrested in an operation against an organized crime syndicate smuggling migrants from the Balkans to Europe.

Europol said in a statement on its website the suspects allegedly smuggled migrants from Kosovo to Slovenia via the Balkan route.

They were apprehended during a joint operation of Europol, European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the Kosovar and Slovenian police on Wednesday.

Europol said the crime group used different vehicles for transportation and safe houses along the route to smuggle migrants.

In 2017, this crime syndicate smuggled 300 people, including children, to Europe every month.

The smugglers charged migrants €2,500 – €3,000 per person and made €900,000 every month, Europol said.

Eight suspects were arrested in Kosovo, and four in Slovenia.

During the operation, 12 houses were searched and 19 mobile devices, four guns, and forged passports were seized.

Headquartered in Hague, Europol helps 28 EU member states in their fight against terror, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime.

Additionally, Europol may work with non-EU partner states and international organizations.

Slovenian army chief sacked after NATO test failure

By Emre Bastug

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AA) – The government on Thursday relieved Chief of General Staff Andrej Osterman of his duty after an elite brigade failed NATO's combat readiness test.

According to the official STA news agency, his deputy Alan Geder was named as Osterman's replacement.

Osterman had been at the helm since 2014.

The decision came after an elite brigade failed in all but one of the five areas during a NATO combat readiness assessment at a training facility near the southwestern town of Postojna, STA reported.

It added that a 800-strong battlegroup was inspected in five areas; planning, operation, logistics support, communication and administration.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar on Thursday tweeted he expects Defense Minister Andreja Katic to put things in order and establish control.

NATO chief urges 'collective defense' in Europe

By Yusuf Hatip

BRUSSELS (AA) – Efforts in Europe to strengthen defenses cannot be an alternative to NATO, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels along with Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Stoltenberg said: “We have been able to bring the NATO-EU cooperation to a new level. We work together on issues like cyber, hybrid, military mobility and many other issues and I also welcome the efforts to strengthen European defense, EU defense, but the important thing is that this is not an alternative to NATO, it is something which has to be developed in complementarity with NATO.”

Stoltenberg welcomed Slovenia’s contribution to NATO and its participation with troops in the mission in Afghanistan.

“We are adapting the Alliance, and Slovenia is part of that. We are adapting the Alliance to a new and more demanding security environment with a more assertive Russia to the East and with the turmoil and the violence and the terrorism in the South, not in the least in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle-East region.

“NATO is responding, we are strengthening our collective defense in Europe, and we are projecting stability beyond our borders. We do that in the Western Balkans but we do it also in the fight against terrorism in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan,” he added.

In his very first official visit to the NATO HQ in Brussels, the Slovenian president said: “It is our obligation and responsibility to our citizens and to our allies to be prepared and to secure the peace and stability.”

Slovenia: Borut Pahor wins runoff presidential election

By Lejla Biogradlija

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AA) – Borut Pahor won Slovenia's run-off presidential election Sunday evening, getting nearly 53 percent of the votes.

In a statement by Slovenia's state elections committee, Pahor secured 52.94 percent of the votes, with 99.98 percent of the total votes counted.

Pahor won his second term, with a record low voter turnout of around 1.7 million, 37.5 percent of voters.

In his victory speech, Pahor said he will "work for all Slovenians, and will do his best to make Slovenians' voice to be heard."

Marjan Sarec, who challenged Pahor in the elections, congratulated his opponent.

Slovenia, independent since 1991, has presidential elections every five years.