Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has sent a letter to the presidents of political parties who want to exclude him from the European People’s Party (EPP) to apologize for treating them as “useful idiots”.

Orban drafted the letter at the insistence of EPP President Joseph Daul and the European Parliament group leader Manfred Weber, a decision that did little to impress Maxime Prévot, the president of Belgium’s Humanist Democratic Center party, who said the letter was “in any case, insufficient”.

“It does not change our belief that Fidesz no longer has a place in the EPP,” said Prévot.

The second Belgian CD & V President Wouter Beke accepted Orban’s apology but joined Prévot in refusing to withdraw their request that Orban’s Fidesz party needed to be excluded from the EPP.

“This is not so much a personal offence in respect to our European values and greater cooperation in monitoring the EU’s external borders, and I do not see any change there,” Orban wrote in his letter.

In recent months, Orban and Fidesz have intensified their attacks against the European Union, including their most recent stunt when they launched a smear campaign accusing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also a member of the EPP, of supporting and encouraging illegal immigration with the Hungarian-born US billionaire, George Soros.

This last-ditch attempt by the Hungarian leader to reverse the growing momentum from within the EPP to have him removed comes less than a week before a planned inter-party discussion about his and Fidesz’s future following the Juncker-Soros smear campaign.

Apart from the letter, Orban has ordered that many of the offensive billboards needed to be removed before Weber’s visit in Budapest and delayed making a public statement about Central European University (CEU), which was forced to announce in December 2018 that it would relocate to Vienna after Orban refused to sign an agreement allowing it to continue operations in Hungary.

CEU had worked in close cooperation with Germany’s Technical University of Munich, located in Weber’s home state of Bavaria. Both universities want to maintain their relationship, but CEU claims that no partnership is possible under the current circumstances “without definitive legal certainty about the long-term status of CEU in Hungary.