A nationalist MEP from Bulgaria was accused of performing the Nazi salute inside the EU parliament’s debate chamber in Strasbourg, France on Wednesday, after delivering a rebuke to the recent decision by the EU’s top court to allow the cutting of funds to Poland and Hungary. He claimed the incident was a “misunderstanding.”
As he was leaving the chamber, Angel Dzhambazki from his country’s VMRO party briefly stopped, turned, faced the speaker’s podium and extended his right arm in a manner similar to a Nazi salute.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola slammed the gesture on Twitter. “It offends me and everyone else in Europe,” she wrote. “That gesture is from the darkest chapter of our history and must be left there.”
France’s European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, called Dzhambazki’s behavior “scandalous and outrageous.”
The incident occurred when MEPs were reacting to the European Court of Justice, which confirmed on Wednesday that Brussels can cut funds to Poland and Hungary. The two countries with conservative governments have been accused by the EU of violating the rule of law at home.
In his floor speech and later in comments online, Dzhambazki dismissed the ruling as “an abomination.”
“There is no sane person who thinks that Hungary and Poland have no functioning rule of law,” the Bulgarian MEP tweeted. “Instead you use it as a whip against the nation states you despise. Long live the nation states of Europe!”
Dzhambazki later told Euronews the outcry was “a simple case of gross misunderstanding.”