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news 05 Dec 12

NATO Ambassador's Suicide Stuns Serbia

Prime Minister expresses sorrow over the shock death of the ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic, who was reported to have killed himself in Brussels on Tuesday.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia's Prime Minister on Wednesday expressed his sorrow about the death of the country's NATO ambassador who committed suicide in Brussels on Tuesday.

The Belgian prosecutor's office confirmed Milinkovic killed himself. "It was suicide," Brussels prosecutor's office said. She noted that no further investigation is planned.

Media reports said that he killed himself at the airport in Brussels by jumping from a parking garage platform in front of Zoran Vujic, Serbia's Deputy Foreign Minister.

According to Associated Press, Milinkovic was meeting Serbian officials arriving for talks at NATO. After the delegation arrived, as they walked over to their cars in the diplomatic garage Milinkovic suddenly strolled to a barrier, climbed over it and jumped, one of the diplomats recalled.

The incident happened at around 18:00 (17:00 GMT). Emergency services were called to the scene, but were not able to revive Milinkovic. Serbian journalists said Milinkovic had appeared normal during the day, talking and chatting with them as they covered a NATO foreign ministers meeting.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic expressed condolences to the family and friends of the late ambassador. "Belgian police are investigating the case, but apparently it was a suicide," Dacic told reporters on Wednesday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened" by the news.

"Ambassador Branislav Milinkovic was a highly respected representative of his country and will be missed at NATO headquarters," Rasmussen said.

Jelena Milic, director of the Belgrade Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies, CEAS, told Balkan Insight that Milinkovic's death was a loss for Serbia.

"Milinkovic was extremely versed in multilateral diplomacy and committed to Serbia's active participation in those organizations where he represented Serbia," Milic said.

The Foreign Ministry recalled a respected diplomat and lawyer who had served in Vienna and Brussels.

"He remains in the memory of his colleagues as a skilled diplomat, a versatile scholar and a noble man," the Ministry said.

Milinkovic's wife was informed of the news in Dublin and immediately went to Brussels. The couple have a six-year-old son.

Milinkovic, a lawyer by training, was appointed Ambassador to NATO in 2009. Earlier, he was a special envoy to NATO. Before that, he was a Permanent Representative to the OSCE and the United Nations.

He is the author of numerous publications on international relations, human rights and security. He was the editor of magazines "International Politics" and "European Legislation".

Serbia is not a member of NATO but joined NATO's Partnership for Peace, PfP, in 2006.

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