The display is outstanding.  On a giant screen are links to English language teaching resources for adults, children and teachers; podcasts; and details of English language teaching centres and exam options.  The room is lined with computer screens and pictures of the British parliament hang on the walls.  We're in the new Self-Access Centre in the Ukrainian Rada (parliament), established by the British Council to meet the high demand for English from MPs and parliamentary staff.  At the opening ceremony, I say that the UK sees Ukraine as a European country and will continue to support its European integration ambitions, including helping the Rada improve its language skills, as long as Ukraine remains a beacon of democracy and media freedom in the region.  Michael Bird, British Council Regional Director for South-East Europe, emphasises the breadth of opportunities the centre provides, covering listening, speaking, reading and writing from elementary to advanced; and notes that the British Council has already established seven similar centres for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.  Powerful stuff.

At the Rada

At the Rada

The same day I welcome to the embassy a group of Ukrainian alumni from the prestigious British Government Chevening Scholarships.  The alumni are here to celebrate their experience and to to explore how best to exploit the networking opportunities which a Chevening Alumni Association can offer; but I find it inspiring, as always, to be in the presence of so many versatile young Ukrainian professionals from different walks of life.  The next day I'm due to attend a project with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to support human resources development in the Rada itself. 

Ukrainians like to cite - often ironically - the Soviet saying, attributed to Stalin, that "Кадры решают все!".  This is sometimes translated as "Cadres decide everything"; a more modern version might be "Human resources are decisive".  Stalin was wrong about most things, but there's no doubt Ukraine's human resources - its people - hold immense potential, if the Ukrainian political system can provide the framework for them to flourish. I hope the UK and other external actors can continue to do our bit, too, to help ensure that Ukraine's human resources are as well equipped as possible to take the country forward into the 21st century.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting:

Ukrayinska Dumka


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