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Turkish PM Unveils Plan for Moving Toward EU Membership


Turkey's prime minister has unveiled a five-year program he says will strengthen the economy and move the country closer to European Union membership.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament Friday that his government will press ahead with democratic reforms, overhaul the constitution and continue its pro-business reform agenda.

He said he sees the bid to join the EU as a way of improving Turkey's political, economic and social standards.

Mr. Erdogan's Justice and Development party won re-election in July parliamentary polls.

Earlier this week, he formed a new cabinet that includes figures who are seen as supportive of the business community and EU membership.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this week that France would not oppose new negotiations between Turkey and the EU, but he remained resistant to full membership.

During his swearing in ceremony Tuesday, President Abdullah Gul also committed himself to a renewed push for Turkey's EU bid. As foreign minister, Mr. Gul helped open accession talks with the EU in 2005.

The EU partially suspended negotiations on eight of 35 policy areas last December because of Ankara's refusal to grant access to its ports and airports by EU-member Cyprus. Turkey says it will not lift the ban until the union ends its isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.

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