TIMELINE: Turkey's long and winding road towards EU

Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:40am EST

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(Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan flies to Brussels on Sunday for a three-day visit aimed at boosting the Muslim country's troubled European Union accession process.

He is due to hold talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and other senior EU officials.

Here are some key dates in Turkey's long and often troubled relationship with Europe:

September 12, 1963 - Turkey seals an association agreement with the then-European Economic Community (EEC).

1978-79 - EEC suggests Turkey apply for membership along with rival Greece. Ankara declines. Greece joins in 1981.

September 12, 1980 - The army topples the government and imposes military rule. Relations with the EEC are virtually frozen.

November 6, 1983 - Turkey holds parliamentary elections, ending military rule. Relations with Europe begin to normalize.

April 15, 1987 - Turkey applies for full EEC membership.

July 30, 2003 - The military-dominated National Security Council is stripped of executive powers in line with EU demands.

July 29, 2005 - Turkey clears last obstacle to talks by extending its customs union with the EU to include new member states including Cyprus. Ankara also issues a declaration making clear it still does not recognize the Greek Cypriot government.

October 4, 2005 - The EU launches accession talks with Turkey.

December 11, 2006 - EU foreign ministers decide to suspend eight of the 35 policy areas into which negotiations are divided.

April 17, 2007 - Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul says Turkey is committed to reforming its laws by 2013 to allow it to join.

June 25, 2007 - The EU agrees to extend membership talks with Turkey to two new policy areas but stops short of opening discussions on the key area of economic and monetary policy.

July 1, 2007 - Foreign Minister Gul accuses the EU of playing "petty games" with his country. Gul says the EU needs to show more vision and recognize the strategic benefits.

July 22, 2007 - Prime Minister Erdogan wins a decisive election but faces challenges over delayed presidential elections, Kurdish separatist violence and a troubled EU bid.

August 30, 2007 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy spells out five areas of Turkey's accession talks with the EU that it wants to hold up, including agricultural subsidies and regional aid -- the EU's two biggest spending programs.

November 6, 2007 - The European Commission in an annual report, urges Turkey to renew momentum of political reforms. Further efforts are needed in freedom of expression and rights of non-Muslim communities; progress was needed in judicial reform.

December 10, 2007 - France wins a symbolic victory when it prevents the EU from using the word "accession" in a foreign ministers statement on Turkish talks with the bloc.

February 26, 2008 - President Gul signs into law a reform long sought by the EU improving the property rights of non-Muslim minorities.

April 10, 2008 - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso calls on Ankara to meet its obligation under membership talks to open its ports to ships from Cyprus.

July 30, 2008 - EU welcomes a decision by Turkey's highest court not to ban the ruling AK Party on charges of Islamist activities.

November 5, 2008 - European Commission declares Turkey a functioning market economy, a crucial step for membership.

December 18, 2008 - The EU agrees to open talks on two further policy areas. Turkey has now opened talks on 10 out of the 35 chapters -- it has provisionally completed talks on just one.

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