“I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a Syrian hearing his revisionism.”
The UN-backed peace process, known as the Geneva talks, convened eight times and made no significant progress before becoming deadlocked.
The futility of the talks led to the departures of Mr de Mistura’s two predecessors, including Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, who called the job “mission impossible.”
Meanwhile, UN inaction allowed Russia, which intervened in the war on the side of Assad in 2015, to establish the position of main powerbroker, later convening their own parallel talks in Astana.
Mr De Mistura reserved some criticism for Moscow, saying that while it helped destroy large swathes of the country it had little intention to help rebuild.
“The Russians have no interest, no means, no capacity of reconstructing Syria and have no intention, if they are smart, of being left with the candle in their hand that then burns their hand,” he said.
“They would rather pass it on to Europe who could then contribute to the reconstruction. A broken country can be a huge heritage.”