Under the agreement, the Lithuanian Embassy will soon move to into a palace in central Rome – Palazzo Blumenstihl. The premises will be given for free as a compensation for the Lithuanian Embassy building Villa Lituania which has been used by Russian diplomats since the Soviet occupation.
"The issue has been outstanding for more than 70 years. It is a historic moment, it is highly nostalgic, subtle and sensitive," Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said after the signing ceremony.
In his words, the solution is acceptable to both countries. "We managed to settle the matter in a way to be able to move the spirit of Villa Lituania to new premises and continue working there without wasting energy on negotiations," Linkevičius said.
Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi emphasized both symbolic and practical aspects of the solution found.
"Today is a very important day for our bilateral ties, for both countries – Italy and Lithuania (...). Yes, settling the matter took a lot of time but we solved it at a very good moment – shortly before Lithuania takes presidency over the European Council," the Italian minister said.
"The Italian government searched for premises and a location that would be just as good or even better than the facilities Lithuania had in our country before the war," he said.
Under the contract, Lithuania will have all nearly 700 square meters on the 4th floor of the palace designed by prominent Italian architect Luca Carimini in late 1800s. Estimated at almost 9 million euros, the facilities will be provided to Lithuania free of charge for 99 years, with the possibility to extend the period in 2112.
In Linkevičius' words, renting the facilities on the market would cost about 40,000-50,000 euros per month.
"I see this as a very good outcome of negotiations, the proposal from the Italian government," the Lithuanian diplomacy chief said.
The agreement is yet to be approved by Lithuania's government and ratified by Italy's parliament.