Serbia’s NATO ambassador leaps to death
2012 12 05

By Slobodan Lekic and Dusan Stojanovic AssociatedPress

Serbia’s ambassador to NATO was chatting and joking with colleagues in a multistory parking garage at Brussels Airport when he suddenly strolled to a barrier, climbed over and flung himself to the ground below, a diplomat said.

By the time his shocked colleagues reached him, Branislav Milinkovic was dead.

His motives are a mystery. Three diplomats who knew Milinkovic said he did not appear distraught in the hours leading up to his death Tuesday night. He seemed to be going about his regular business, they said, picking up an arriving delegation of six Serbian officials who were to hold talks with NATO, the alliance that went to war with his country just 13 years ago.

Belgian authorities confirmed that the ambassador had killed himself.

"It was indeed a suicide," said Ine Van Wymersch of the Brussels prosecutor’s office. She said no further investigation was planned.

A former author and activist opposed to the authoritarian regime of Serbia’s former strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Milinkovic was outgoing, had a warm sense of humor and worked to keep good ties with ambassadors from other ex-Yugoslav countries, according to diplomats and acquaintances.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details, said they knew of no circumstances — private or professional — that would have prompted him to take his own life.

But Milinkovic, 52, had mentioned to colleagues at diplomatic functions that he was unhappy about living apart from his wife, a Serbian diplomat based in Vienna, and their 17-year-old son.

One of the diplomats described his death to The Associated Press, saying she had spoken to a member of the delegation who had witnessed the leap from the 8- to 10-meter-high (26- to 33-foot-high) platform.

The diplomats all spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted by foreign service regulations to speak publicly to the press.

The death cast a pall on the second day of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. Officials said they were shocked by the news of the death of a very popular and well-liked man.

NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Serbian ambassador."

"As Serbian ambassador to NATO he earned the respect and admiration of his fellow ambassadors," he said.

When Yugoslavia was a united country, Milinkovic worked for a prominent Yugoslav foreign policy think-tank. But when Milosevic seized power in Serbia in late 1980s, Milinkovic joined other liberals who opposed the former strongman’s regime and presented a rare voice of moderation during the era when much of Serbia was engulfed in nationalist fervor. He established close ties with international human rights and other groups and remained active in anti-war groups.

After Milosevic was ousted in 2000, Milinkovic was appointed Serbia’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, or OSCE, in Vienna.

He was transferred to NATO as Serbia’s special representative in 2004. Serbia is not a member of the military alliance, but Milinkovic was named ambassador after Belgrade joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, which involves neutral states.

The move to join the NATO program had angered Serbian nationalists who are now in power. They have pledged that Serbia will never join NATO because of the alliance’s 1999 bombing campaign that forced Milosevic’s forces to withdraw from Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, which has never accepted that loss.

Milosevic was widely blamed for instigating the ’90s Balkan wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, conflicts that claimed more than 100,000 lives and left millions homeless.

At NATO, Milinkovic worked to foster closer ties with the representatives of all five other nations that gained independence after the bloody 1991 breakup of the former Yugoslav federation into Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia.

Relations were still politically charged when Milinkovic first arrived in Brussels, but they have since improved drastically.

Two months ago, when Croatia’s ambassador to NATO was being transferred to Moscow, Milinkovic organized a dinner for all five of his counterparts and a band played music from all parts of the former Yugoslav federation.

He is survived by his wife and son.


Article from: news.yahoo.com





Related Articles
British nuclear expert dies in 40-metre plunge (2009)
Wife of British diplomat dies in alleged suicide jump from NYC apartment rooftop
Wall Street trader falls to death


Latest News from our Front Page

Tiny Micro Robots Build Things in ‘Microfactory’
2014 04 17
The teenie-weeniest robot uprising ever might be sooner rather than later due to the work of research institute SRI. Don’t let these microbots’ size fool you, there is power in numbers and thousands of the robots can work together to perform tasks at dizzying speed. From ReCode.net: SRI International has developed a new generation of ant-like robots that can work as ...
’We are not dead yet’: Heartbreaking text messages sent from schoolchildren trapped aboard South Korean ferry
2014 04 17
Passengers on board the South Korean ferry sent heartbreaking messages to their family members just moments before it sank. Children waiting to be rescued frantically reached for their phones as the boat began to list in a bid to communicate with their loved ones a final time. Twenty-four people, including five students and two teachers, have been found dead, but 272 are ...
"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to "anarchy"
2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka: Come with me And you’ll be In a world of Pure imagination ...
Artists ’have structurally different brains’
2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found. Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery. The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate. But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report. As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online
2014 04 17
A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping. Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...
More News »