Vydas Dolinskas, director of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, said construction work should be finished by March-April. Meanwhile, Danius Malinauskas, acting head of the Directorate of the State Cultural Reserve of Vilnius Castles, added that the agreement with the contractor ends on 15 May.
"They will leave gradually, and builders will start handing over the premises to museum staff in March," Malinauskas explained.
Both officials stressed that construction work was not only on schedule but even slightly ahead of it.
Following demands by the Lithuanian Public Procurement Office to terminate the contract with the construction company due to violations, all construction work was suspended in early 2011. The work was resumed last November after it was agreed that the contractor would finish the first stage, or part A, covering a bit more than a half of the palace.
"Around 53 percent of the space and the courtyards should be handed over for use by the middle of 2013. Finishing the remaining work will take several more years," Dolinskas told BNS, adding that at best museum staff would have several months to arrange expositions.
"The presidency does not need bare walls and the roof. It needs an historic environment. Finally, it needs a mystical space having some historic load. The Grand Dukes Palace is the right place," Dolinskas stressed.
According to him, the first masonry castle was built in the XIII century in the area where the Grand Dukes Palace is rebuilt. After Grand Duke Gediminas moved the capital to Vilnius and in later years, the most important diplomatic events took place there.
"Diplomats from Persia to Moscow, Spain, Italy would be received here in the XVI-XVII centuries," Dolinskas said.
In his words, it’s symbolic that next year, as expected, leaders from all EU member countries or their representatives, members of the European Commission will gather in Vilnius, at the Grand Dukes Palace.