The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, has announced that Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki would face repercussions in the form of sanctions for making what seemed to be a fascist Nazi salute before exiting the Plenary Hall on Wednesday. In a statement to his peers seen by various European news outlets, Dzhambazki, a nationalist MEP in the ECR faction, refuses that his action was a Nazi salute, characterizing the event as a “minor misunderstanding.” He attacked his colleagues for “libel and slander,” claiming that his camera-captured hand gesture was a farewell signal. “I was on the hemicycle concluding my speech, during which I admittedly stated something that many of you disagreed with, thereby inciting you. I intended to apologize by modestly waving to the chair as I exited the hemicycle,” according to Dzhambazki.

Regarding the EU’s highest court’s judgment on Wednesday to empower the Commission to cancel money to nations that violate rule-of-law requirements, Dzhambazki made a speech amid a rule-of-law discussion in Parliament. Dzhambazki slammed the decision, saying it was motivated by “hatred for nation-states” rather than “justice and the rule of law.” “Long live Orbán, Fidesz, Kaczynski, Bulgaria, and our nation-state,” he declared, accusing the EU of attempting to “shame” Hungary as well as Poland while alluding to Hungary’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Poland’s ultra-conservative de facto leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. MEPs from all political parties were outraged by the fascist salute. Metsola acknowledged to POLITICO Europe that she will definitely pursue Dzhambazki with sanctions. “A Nazi salute in the European Parliament — here and everywhere — is unacceptable to me. We advocate for the polar opposite. We are the democratic house. That gesture is a part of history’s worst period. Unacceptable,” she remarked.

Rule 10 of the European Parliament’s procedural rules, which addresses MEP behavior, stipulates that members’ behavior must be “based on the values and principles established forth in the Treaties, notably in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Members are required to treat Parliament with integrity and not to jeopardize its image.” “The mask comes off. When we talk about democracy and the rule of law, nationalists and the far-right remind us of their motto: intolerance and provocation. I am their favorite target, and I am proud of it,” observed Italian MEP Sandro Gozi, who was verbally attacked by Dzhambazki in the chamber. Upon referring to two of his Parliament peers as a “Frenchwoman of Algerian ancestry” and “the German of Turkish descent,” Dzhambazki had offered a rather apathetic apology in 2019.

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