COMMUNIQUÉ[The text of the insinuations of the article in Keghart.org and the Californian Courier are given in brackets] The answers of the Director of the Department of Real Estate of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem are in italic font. [An alarming news was leaked few weeks ago about the secret and illegal transaction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.]
No more secret than any other discrete affair and privileged information of the Patriarchate or any other person or entity.[This new scandal involves the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Jerusalem Archbishop Nourhan Manougian and the Director of the Real Estate department of the Patriarchate Fr. Baret Yeretsian.
The story started in 2019 when rumors circulated concerning a real estate deal between the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Municipality according to which part of the Armenian Quarter would be rented out to the Municipality for 5 years.]
Ill-founded rumors that are spread by interested parties trying to harm the Patriarchate.[In March 2020 Patriarch Manougian and Fr. Yeretsian signed a 10-year contract with the Jerusalem Municipality giving away the ‘Goveroun Bardez’ area located in the historical Armenian Quarter to be used as a parking lot for Jews heading to the Western Wall in the Old City. This new parking lot was officially opened in May 2021.]
Most of this area was covered by a pile of dirt for the past five decades or so, and the remaining part of it was used as provisory and insufficient parking of residents of the Armenian Quarter, at very low parking fees. The parking area was unmarked, unpaved, unlicensed, and did not meet any legal regulations or safety standards.
The Agreement with the Municipality provides that the Municipality will lend the Patriarchate the funds necessary to cover the cost of approx. 6.5 Million Shekels, of excavation, removal and disposal of the tons and tons of dirt, paving and fencing the plot, to create a regulated and organized parking of at least 180 parking spaces. The loan will be returned by allowing the municipality parking of up to 90 cars until 2030.
The Patriarchate maintains full possession and control over the plot at all times.
The Patriarchate is exempt of any municipal taxes concerning the plot.
The agreement may be terminated at any time when the Patriarchate obtains a building permit for hotel in the Plot.
The remaining 90 parking spaces are more than the capacity of the plot before its development.[In July 2021, a new contract was signed between the Armenian Patriarchate and an Australian businessman called Dany Rubinstein according to which ‘Goveroun Bardez’ which is the entire southwestern section of the Armenian Quarter would be leased for 99 years to that businessman.]
The agreement was signed with a fully owned subsidiary of a corporate from the United Arab Emirates.[The plan is to construct a hotel on that land within the next 5 years giving in return a very small percentage of the profits to the Armenian Patriarchate.]
Return is a rental fee far greater than anything the Patriarchate was receiving from parking fees during the past fifty years, or could expect to receive in the future, and in addition a portion of the hotel’s profit, whereby a net income of hundreds of thousands of Dollars is secured to the Patriarchate.
The Promoter is also responsible for registration of the Land in the Patriarchate’s name.[According to verified sources from the Holy Land, the Patriarch and Fr. Yeretsian negotiated and finalized the deal without the consent of the Synod (Սինոդ). The Synod was not convened for the past 3 years and did not vote for this deal, bluntly bypassing legal and jurisdictional procedures and laws that govern the Patriarchate.]
The Holy Synod was consulted and gave its explicit blessing.[Patriarch Manougian seems to be under the misapprehension that Armenian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem belongs to him, and that he can do anything on matters related to the status of that oldest and most sacred Armenian Diaspora land. For his own good, he should be disabused of that false notion. He is the 97th steward of the Armenian real estate of that Holy Land, a temporary mandate entrusted to him by the Armenian Apostolic Church and its community in the City of Jerusalem. In fact, the Armenian Quarter and other “Patriarchateowned” real estate don’t even belong to the Armenian Church or to the St. James Brotherhood. They are the possessions of the Armenian nation. Every last inch of Holy Land Armenian property was purchased through the donations of Armenian pilgrims, nobility, kings, and charitable organizations over a millennium. Twice in recent centuries, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem was bankrupt and was close to losing all its real estate. It was rescued by Armenian merchants and regular Armenian patriots.]
His Beatitude the Patriarch, Archbishop Sevan Gharibian and Father Baret Yeretzian, are doing everything possible and spare no effort, to salvage and protect Armenian Properties, as well as to develop them and create and secure solid and steady income to support the Armenian congregation and to maintain and preserve its assets.
This is the nature of this transaction which has been contemplated for a very long time with utmost caution and consideration, to ensure that under no circumstances is it risking the full and exclusive ownership over this land.[Every inch of the Holy Land falls under strict local and international laws hence no one has the right to split up that one entity into different trading parts. The lawless Patriarch should convene the St. James Brotherhood’s Synod which, according to reliable sources, would reject the illegal lease signed by the Patriarch along with his right-hand man Rev. Baret Yeretsian, and under duress by Archbishop Sevan Gharibian].
The Brotherhood has deliberated and determined in favor of the lease of this land.