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EU Urges More Turkish Reforms

The European Union says Turkey must make "significant further efforts" on enhancing freedom of expression, religion and other reforms before it can join the 27-nation European bloc.

In an annual progress report released Tuesday on Turkey's EU bid, the European Commission commended Ankara for solving a constitutional crisis over the election of a new president earlier this year.

But the report said the pace of reforms has slowed since Turkey began its membership negotiations in 2005. It urged Ankara to renew the momentum of change.

The Commission also recommended Ankara repeal or amend a penal code article used to prosecute citizens for insulting Turkish identity or the country's institutions.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has said he expects to broaden talks with Ankara in the near future in efforts that could lead to Turkey's eventual admission to the European bloc.

EU officials began membership talks with Turkey in 2005. But the union partially suspended negotiations on eight of 35 policy areas (or chapters) in December because of Ankara's refusal to grant access to its ports and airports by EU-member Cyprus.

The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded in response to a coup in Nicosia aiming at uniting Cyprus with Greece.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.