Bulgarian Member of European Parliament Facing Sanctions Over Alleged Nazi Salute
A far-right member of the European parliament is facing possible sanctions after he made an alleged Nazi salute following a stormy debate over EU funding policies towards member states.
Angel Dzhambazki, a Bulgarian nationalist MEP, who was lambasted by colleagues for the gesture, angrily insisted that he was being defamed, and that he had simply been waving in the direction of the parliament’s speaker.
In his speech at the debate on the European Commission’s ruling on Wednesday to cut funding to countries that breach rule-of-law standards, Dzhambazki railed that the move had “nothing to do with law and the rule of law” but “hate for nation states.”
Accusing the EU of “shaming” Hungary and Poland, the two member states which launched a failed legal challenge against the ruling, Dzhambazki ended his speech with a paean to Europe’s nationalist leaders and political parties.
“Long live Orbán, Fidesz, Kaczyński, Bulgaria, and our nation state. Long live Europe, the Europe of nations,” he declared, referring to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of the Fidesz party, and Jarosław Kaczyński, Poland’s de facto leader.
Video of Dzhambazki after he gave his speech showed him exiting the chamber and then turning around, briefly raising and extending his right arm.
Several MEPs expressed outrage and disgust at Dzhambazki’s gesture.
“A Hitler salute is the opposite of what the European Parliament stands for,” Manfred Weber, the leader of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) grouping in the chamber, told Politico EU.
Sandro Gozi, a liberal Italian MEP who has clashed in the past with Dzhambazki, remarked: “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.”
Meanwhile, the parliament’s president — Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola — confirmed that Dzhambazki was facing a sanctions procedure under its code of conduct for members.
“A fascist salute in the European Parliament is unacceptable to me — here and everywhere,” she told Politico EU. “We stand for the opposite. We are the House of democracy. That gesture is part of the darkest part of history. Unacceptable.”
Speaking to the parliament on Thursday, Dzhambazki was unrepentant, accusing others of smearing his reputation.
“I was in the hemicycle finishing my speech at which admittedly I said something with which many of you disagree thus provoking you,” he said. “As I was leaving the hemicycle I wanted to apologize … by humbly waving to the chair.”
A controversial figure, Dzhambazki is known in Bulgaria for his forthright opposition to extending the rights of the LGBTQ community, which he dismisses as “homosexual propaganda” and “pedophilia,” and for bigoted remarks regarding minorities such as the Roma, whom he has described as a “threat” to the Bulgarian nation.