Turkish PM returns a hero

ANKARA (AP) – Thousands of cheering supporters greeted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he returned to Ankara on Saturday, vowing to press forward with reforms and the country’s bid to join the European Union, which agreed to open membership talks with Turkey next year. Supporters presented Erdogan with flowers after his airplane touched down at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, and some 5,000 gathered in near-freezing weather to greet Erdogan in the city’s central square. «Turkey has turned the critical corner,» Erdogan told the crowd, who was waving flags and balloons with Turkish and EU flags. «Our road is open, you should have no doubt of it.» «From now on, democracy will have a different meaning and human rights and freedoms will be practiced in a more meaningful manner, the economy will perform better,» Erdogan added. «By this, Turkey will take its rightful place among modern and civilized countries.» Supporters showered Erdogan with confetti as he started to speak and set off fireworks after he finished. [Yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul insisted that the summit deal would not mean Turkey recognizing Cyprus.]