Headline

King delivers address in Armenia; says Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites a duty he is proud to carry

His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday delivered an address in Yerevan, attended by Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, academics and diplomats at the Presidential Palace.
 
In the speech, attended by Their Royal Highness Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, His Majesty’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy, King Abdullah said the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites is “a duty I am proud to carry”.
 
Noting that Jerusalem is holy to followers of the three monotheistic faiths, His Majesty said “all have a stake in safeguarding the spirituality, peace, and coexistence that it symbolises”.
 
Following is the full text of the speech:
 
“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
 
Mr President,
Distinguished guests,
My dear friends:
 
Thank you very much for the warm welcome. On behalf of my entire delegation, let me express our appreciation for the warm hospitality we have received here in Armenia.
 
Being in Yerevan, one of the world’s oldest cities, yet the capital of a vibrant and young country, reminds me very much of my own beloved Jordan.
 
Our two countries and peoples have carved a niche for themselves in today’s modern world, all the while remaining true to their identities, their cultures, and faiths. And Jordan, much like Armenia, has made its human capital the main driver of its journey towards development. Our countries have much to gain from cooperating to capitalise on this promising potential.
 
So my friends,
 
Although this is our first official visit to your beautiful country, we feel we are among family. And in fact, we are family.
 
These familial bonds date back over 100 years, as you had mentioned Mr President, when my great-great-grandfather Sharif Hussein bin Ali as he heeded the great commandments shared by Islam and Christianity—to Love God and Love our Neighbour—and granted shelter to Christian Armenian families in need. For my great-great-grandfather, for my father, and for me, helping those who are desperately in need is the only option. It is a duty that Jordan continues to live by.
 
Thousands of Jordanians trace their roots back to Armenia. They do honour to both of our countries and play vital roles in the arts, education, public service, business, and much, much more. And they form the solid bedrock on which our friendship continues to grow and flourish.
 
And as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan prepares to celebrate its first centennial, we look back fondly and proudly on the role that Jordanians of Armenian descent, alongside all Jordanians, have played in working for the progress and prosperity of our homeland.
 
But our joint history extends far beyond that. Armenians in the Middle East are part of the oldest Christian community in the world. They are an integral part of our region’s past, helping shape its culture. And we look to work with you to make sure they continue to play such a role in shaping its present and creating its bright future.
 
In Jordan, the beautiful Saint Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church proudly stands in Bethany Beyond the Jordan—the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. And it is a testament to the enduring Armenian history in our country. And I personally have been blessed to support the restoration of Bethany Beyond the Jordan, a site of great importance to Muslims and Christians alike.
 
But In Jerusalem, the Armenian Quarter has been part of the city for centuries. And the Armenian Patriarchate was among the Churches protected under the Pact of Omar, a tradition of Christian and Muslim coexistence that dates back over 13-hundred years, to the days of Caliph Omar bin Al Khattab. This heritage continues today in the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, a duty I am proud to carry. And I am especially proud to be entrusted with the responsibility for the holy sites of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
 
But though Jerusalem may hold great historic significance to me and my family, the city is holy to followers of the three monotheistic faiths, and all have a stake in safeguarding the spirituality, peace, and coexistence that it symbolises. We cannot let the holy city turn into a flashpoint for violence and division. So preserving the city’s identity and its legal status, as well as the historic status quo in relation to holy sites, Islamic and Christian alike, is going to be key. So we look to Christian leaders and friends like you and around the world to work with us in safeguarding Jerusalem as a unifying city of peace.
 
My friends,
 
I have spoken today about our deep friendship, rooted in a rich history. Jordanians of Armenian descent have constituted over the past century an exemplary story, proving that friendship—indeed brotherhood—triumphs. So I hope in the days and months ahead, we can write a new chapter together—a chapter that builds upon the friendship that began so long ago, and brings new partnerships and promise, for all our people.
 
Thank you.”
 
In remarks introducing His Majesty, President Sarkissian noted the strong ties between Jordan and Armenia, recalling their shared history dating back to Sharif Hussein bin Ali, who gave instructions to provide support for Armenian families in need.
 
He also highlighted the talks held earlier with the King on opportunities to advance cooperation in several sectors, such as economic and tourism-related areas.
 
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Khasawneh, and Minister of Industry, Trade, and Supply Tareq Hammouri attended the speech.
 
Royal Hashemite Court 
11 February 2020