Calling it a ‘historic day’, President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday swore in the island’s first deputy minister of culture, Yiannis Toumazis.

Anastasiades said culture is a cornerstone of identity.

“The ultimate goal of creating this autonomous administrative structure is the optimal coordination of existing services and the overall management of monuments, works and activities related to culture and the arts,” Anastasiades said.

“I do not consider that we have exhausted our obligations towards culture and creatives. The creation of the deputy ministry of culture will give new impetus and perspective for a more effective and structured upgrading in the management of the Cypriot cultural wealth,” he added.

The new deputy ministry’s responsibilities include promoting Cypriot cultural identity by utilising cultural heritage and modern creation; recording of cultural heritage in the occupied areas; management, supervision, support and further development of infrastructure and cultural institutions and the securing and strengthening the professional status of those working in the cultural and creative industries.

“It is with great satisfaction and a sense of responsibility that I undertake these duties. And I am satisfied because culture now acquires status under the state with an independent, autonomous administrative structure dedicated to the promotion of the Cypriot culture and heritage but also to the contemporary culture as well,” Toumazis said.

“By establishing a deputy ministry for culture your government indicates in practice its convergence with the modern perception that considers civilization the new soft power, equaling diplomacy, the economy and defence equipment,” he added, addressing Anastasiades.

Toumazis is a professor of history and theory of art at Frederick University, coordinator of the doctoral studies programmes and has made numerous publications.

He has been the director of the Nicosia Arts Centre and the Pierides Foundations while has also served as president of the Cyprus Theatre Organisation and as vice-president of the bicommunal technical committee on culture.

Toumazis also holds the title of knight of the arts and letters of France for his service to culture.