The Goveroun Bardez (“Cows’ Garden”) Controversial Contract Raises Questions while Patriarch Nourhan’s Silence Forces the Jerusalem Armenian Community to Seek Credible Answers.
For several months now, the controversial 99-year lease of Goveroun Bardez has been the center of turmoil within the Jerusalem Armenian community, Armenia, and the Armenian Diaspora. Despite numerous demands for clarification/transparency, the contract has remained shrouded in secrecy, fueling concerns and raising suspicions. The frustration grows as Patriarch Nourhan maintains silence while the leading figures within the patriarchate stonewall justified inquiries.
Members of the Armenian community, both in Jerusalem and abroad, have sought elucidation regarding the details of the contract. We strongly believe the contract’s content should be made public, considering its negative implications for the community. However, the Patriarch, along with Fr. Koryun Baghdasaryan, the new director of the real estate department, have refused to disclose concrete information. Instead, they have claimed lawyers are working on the issue and that a contract reversal is imminent.
The ongoing delays and false hopes advanced by the Patriarchate escalate the frustration and skepticism of the Jerusalem Armenian community. We question whether these tactics are deliberate attempts to silence the community into complacency, hoping the controversy would eventually fade away. The constant delays and promises of legal actions against those involved in the contract have led many of us to doubt the sincerity of the Patriarchate’s intentions.
The Patriarch has seemingly distanced himself from the crisis. It leaves us to speculate that he is surrounded by key figures within the Patriarchate, namely Fr. Koryun Baghdasaryan, Fr. Zakaryan, and Fr. Aghan Goghyan, who have become de facto administrators. It has been widely alleged they intend to bury the controversial contract into oblivion while orchestrating their own elevation to the ranks of bishop and thus hold the Patriarchate in their grip.
The Armenian community of Jerusalem is entitled to clarity and transparency regarding the controversial contract. It is of crucial importance that the Patriarchate addresses the concerns and inquiries raised by the community, rather than avoid them. By remaining silent and withholding information, the Patriarchate risks eroding the trust and confidence the community places in its leadership.
The refusal of the Patriarch and Fr. Koryun to disclose the contents of the contract undoubtedly give credence to the suspicions held by the Armenian community at large. Moreover, the constant delays and false hopes advanced by the Patriarchate further contribute to the suspicions surrounding the dubious contract. These tactics only serve to create uncertainty and frustration within the community, as we begin to question whether the leadership is committed to resolving the issue or if it is attempting to sweep it under the rug.
Goveroun Bardez has been a part of the Jerusalem Armenian heritage since 1550s. We have inherited it from our forefathers through their selfless devotion. As part of the Jerusalem Armenian history, it cannot and will not be erased through the signatures of irresponsible and inconsiderate individuals who are entrusted with the guardianship of the sacred estates.
Concerned Jerusalem Armenians
Jerusalem, June 16, 2023
Jerusalem, June 16, 2023