Robert Brinkley, Ambassador of Great Britain to Ukraine (2002 – 2006)


- It seems to me that the word “reforms” has been so over-used that it has become meaningless – or is used to mean whatever the speaker wants. So I am going to focus on trust: the glue which binds humans together in society. We rely on our teachers, doctors, business people, journalists, police, judges, politicians and ministers to use their positions of power and responsibility honestly and fairly. In their decisions we expect them neither to fear the powerful nor to give special favours, but to apply one standard impartially to all, and to set a good example. But we are all human. As the English writer Lord Acton commented in the 19th century: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Given the opportunity, people everywhere take selfish advantage of power. The best means to counter this natural tendency –apart from formation of conscience and exercise of virtue - are accountability and transparency