Serbia’s ambassador to Nato was chatting and joking with colleagues in a multi-storey car park at Brussels airport yesterday when he suddenly strolled to a barrier, climbed over and flung himself 30ft to the ground below, a diplomat said.
By the time his shocked colleagues reached him, Branislav Milinkovic was dead. Belgian authorities confirmed last night 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, Mr Milinkovic was outgoing, had a warm sense of humour and worked to keep good ties with ambassadors from other former Yugoslav countries, according to diplomats and acquaintances.
Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was “deeply saddened” by Mr Milinkovic’s death. “As Serbian ambassador to Nato he earned the respect and admiration of his fellow ambassadors,” he said.
When Yugoslavia was a single country, Mr Milinkovic worked for a prominent foreign policy think-tank. But when Milosevic seized power in Serbia in the late 1980s, Mr Milinkovic joined other liberals who opposed the former strongman’s regime and presented a rare voice of moderation during an era when much of Serbia was engulfed in nationalist fervour.
He established close ties with human rights and other groups and remained active in anti-war groups. At Nato, he worked to foster closer ties with the representatives of all five other former Yugoslav nations.
He is survived by his wife and their son.