Comments on and reaction to UK and US sanctions hit Cyprus’ economy harder than the sanctions themselves, chairman of the Cyprus Bar Association Christos Clerides said on Monday.

“When I had said we should not overreact and that there was an overreaction, I was accused of downplaying this issue. Far from it. Therefore, it is not necessary for senior state officials to make endless statements to the media,” Clerides said on Monday.

He further said it is unnecessary for senior government officials to constantly comment on the matter as Cyprus has the mechanisms in place to deal with the issue. He said in no other country are such comments by political leaders made.

There was intense speculation in the build-up to a new round of US and UK sanctions issued against Russia late last week that more Cypriots and businesses on the island would be on the list.

Indeed, the government appeared to be caught off-guard on April 12 and since rushed to get a handle on the situation but soon faced criticism that it was too eagerly kowtowing to foreign powers.

Clerides was asked to comment on President Nikos Christodoulides’ Friday statements of “I will not cover for anyone” found to be on the latest lists.

“Well who said we want to cover for anyone?” Clerides asked Sigma.

He explained that the the association had contacts with both the US and UK embassies and neither gave the impression that they had major problems with Cyprus.

Conversely, Clerides claimed that the impression which was made was that there was over compliance and indeed that was the phrase which was used.

Asked whether the sanctions lists had been a long time in the making or were much more recently conceived, Clerides explained that the aim of the West is to cut Russia off financially.

He added that the oligarchs were not at their height in Cyprus but instead that took place in England – “that’s where the billions were invested, Cyprus took a very small part”.

Clerides conceded however that perhaps there was a rush towards “over-compliance” due to the negative reputation Cyprus has gained internationally over the past decade.

He referred to the banking and financial crisis of 2013 along with the “golden passports”.

But Clerides claimed that Cyprus can clear up its own mess.

“The mechanisms exist in Cyprus, there is the rule of law – some cases are still in court – but there is no need to overreact.

“But it’s true, over the past ten years Cyprus’ reputation has been hit abroad – although this is not something that suddenly happened just now due to the sanctions list, this existed previously,” he emphasised.

The Cyprus Mail reported last week that the impact of the sanctions went beyond just the service sectors. Scores of people have lost their jobs, and companies shut down, but more controversially – clients of sanctioned entities have also seen their bank accounts frozen.