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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 2 .

Calming the Ferghana Valley: Development and Dialogue at the heart of Central Asia
Nunn, Rubin, & Lubin

New York: Central Foundation Press, 1999
196pp. Index. Pb.: $11.95; ISBN 0-8707-8414-5

This report from an eminent group of US policymakers and conflict resolution specialists represents a very useful addition to the literature on Central Asia, with maps, tables and appendices. The Ferghana Valley straddles three former Soviet republics: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It is a major source of food and water for all three states but is also the site of serious and growing economic and political pressures that have led to bloodshed and violence in the 1990s. The working group, led by Senator Sam Nunn, set out to examine the sources of conflict and instability in this highly volatile region, and how these might potentially be resolved in the future. The US has become particularly aware of the strategic value of Central Asia since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, with respect to energy resources, the transit of narcotics and weapons, and the rise of newly politicised Islamic groups. In 1989 and 1990 violent clashes in both the Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan parts of the valley took hundreds of lives, followed by further unrest and assassinations over the past ten years. The authors recommend a number of measures, including the establishment of cross-border institutions to defuse tensions and spur economic growth; support for institutions promoting civil society and human rights initiatives; increased efforts at intercultural dialogue on ethnic and religious issues; and boosting foreign assistance, aid and investment to the region.

Alan Bullion, The Open University, UK

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