MEP who appears to give Nazi salute in European Parliament faces sanctions procedure

    European Parliament President Roberta Metsola is set to launch a sanctions procedure against Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki, who made what appeared to be a Nazi salute while leaving the Parliament chamber Wednesday evening.

    Dzhambazki, a nationalist MEP in the ECR group, denies his gesture was a fascist salute, calling the incident a “small misunderstanding” in an email to his colleagues seen by POLITICO. He accused fellow MEPs of “libel and defamation,” arguing that his hand sign, which was captured on camera, was a goodbye signal. “I was in the hemicycle finishing my speech at which admittedly I said something with which many of you disagree thus provoking you. As I was leaving the hemicycle I wanted to apologise … by humbly waving to the chair.”

    The scene took place after an intervention by Dzhambazki during a rule-of-law debate in Parliament, following Wednesday’s decision by the EU’s top court to allow the Commission to cut funds to countries that breach rule-of-law standards. Lambasting the ruling, Dzhambazki said it had “nothing to do with law and the rule of law” but “hate for nation states.” He accused the EU of trying to “shame” Hungary and Poland, declaring: “Long live Orbán, Fidesz, Kaczyński, Bulgaria, and our nation state. Long live Europe, the Europe of nations,” was referring to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of the Fidesz party, and Jarosław Kaczyński, Poland’s de facto leader.

    Dzhambazki did not respond to a request for comment.

    MEPs across the political spectrum reacted with outrage to the gesture. Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, said the use of a “Hitler salute” is the “opposite of what the European Parliament stands for.”

    Metsola confirmed to POLITICO’s Playbook Brussels that she will initiate a sanctions procedure against Dzhambazki. “A fascist salute in the European Parliament is unacceptable to me — here and everywhere,” she said. “We stand for the opposite. We are the House of democracy. That gesture is part of the darkest part of history. Unacceptable.”

    Dzhambazki could be sanctioned under Rule 10 of the European Parliament’s rules of procedure which deals with the conduct of MEP and states that members’ conduct should be “based on the values and principles laid down in the Treaties, and particularly in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Members shall respect Parliament’s dignity and shall not harm its reputation.”

    Italian MEP Sandro Gozi, whom Dzhambazki had targeted in the chamber, said: “The mask slips. Every time we discuss democracy and the rule of law, the nationalists and the extreme right remind us of their motto: intolerance and provocation … I am their favorite target and I am proud of it,” he said.

    In 2019, Dzhambazki issued a half-hearted apology after he referred to two of his Parliament colleagues as a “Frenchwoman of Algerian origin” and “the German of Turkish origin.”

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