Portugal's top bankers have called on Europe's leaders to stop "playing with fire" and moderate their stance towards the euro zone periphery, or risk instilling alarm among bank depositors in future.
In separate interviews, the heads of the country's two biggest banks – Millennium BCP and Banco Espírito Santo – said they were concerned that the precedent set by Europe's treatment of Cyprus's recent troubles had increased nervousness across the euro zone to dangerous levels.
(Read More: Cyprus Shows Urgent Need for Banking Union: S&P)
"Leaders need to moderate their language. This could be very bad," Ricardo Espírito Santo Salgado, chief executive of BES, told the Financial Times.
Nuno Amado, his opposite number at BCP, talked of a "Cyprus virus", saying: "If someone had designed a plan to hurt the European market, it would be difficult to think of something better . . . You can't keep playing with fire."
The comments come in the wake of the EU's messy deal to bail out Cyprus, which initially envisaged a so-called haircut even on deposits below the pan-Europe €100,000 deposit guarantee. Although the threshold for haircuts was later lifted above the guarantee level, bankers across the euro zone complained that the damage had been done.
Portuguese bankers said that for several days in the wake of the Cyprus affair customers were jittery. "There was huge nervousness," Mr. Amado said. BES and Portugal's number three bank, BPI, experienced a rush of clients wanting to move cash from deposit accounts into vaults within the banks.