Minister: ‘the country before the party’

As members of Socialist PASOK prepare to convene on Thursday to launch the process of a leadership challenge to George Papandreou, and following Health Minister Andreas Loverdos? statement of support for challenger Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou conceded in comments to Skai on Wednesday that the party was in need of some ?political debate? but stressed that crucial negotiations currently underway with foreign creditors should remain a priority.

?The priority is the good of the country,? the minister told Skai?s morning news program Proti Grammi (Front Line) On Wednesday.

Commenting on the joint appearance of Venizelos and Loverdos at a press conference on Tuesday, Xenogiannakopoulou played it down, noting that the two men did not cause a stir as they were very cautious in their statements.

The alternate minister, a close aide to Papandreou, avoided speculating on challengers to the former premier, noting that ?the candidates will become apparent when the procedure begins,? referring to Thursdays scheduled session of PASOK?s parliamentary group.