In the first half of 2009 the Czech Republic presides over the European Union's Council, as the second new member state joining the bloc after 2004 (after Slovakia). This is a tough job, demanding protracted preparations, which are usually spread over several years. But if handled smoothly, the presidency may help further the country's strategic objectives and, still more pronouncedly, build its positive image - especially so, if it is assumed for the first time ever. Therefore, the way in which the Czech Republic carries out the task will greatly influence its perception and position in Europe, and the Czech experiences may prove instrumental in Poland's own preparations for its first presidency slated for the latter half of 2011. The article attempts to present and assess the Czech preparations, with emphasis on the organisational and technical aspects. Questions involving the programme, and particularly the presidency's priorities and agenda, as reflecting an interplay of numerous factors, would require a separate analysis, and here they are only referred to as an element of the Czech Republic's preparatory effort.
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