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Serbian Ambassador to NATO Branislav Milinkovic, seen at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Dec. 14, 2006, was described as a "skilled diplomat" and "an intellectual."
BRUSSELS – Serbia’s ambassador to NATO jumped to his death from a multi-story building in Belgium, officials said Wednesday.
Brussels prosecutor's office told Reuters that they “can be sure that it was a suicide, therefore we are not investigating any further."
However, Serbia said it was investigating the death of Branislav Milinkovic, 52, which happened at a parking garage at Brussels airport during a conference of NATO foreign ministers.
A Serbian Foreign Ministry official, who asked not to be named, said they were “shocked.”
"We have no clues about what could prompt Milinkovic to do that. He was a good man," the official said.
'A noble man'
The ministry praised him as a distinguished diplomat and jurist who would be "remembered as a skilled diplomat, an intellectual and a noble man."
Serbian tabloid newspaper Kurir reported that Milinkovic jumped about 30 feet in the presence of Serbia's assistant foreign minister for security policy, Zoran Vujic.
A diplomat described the death to The Associated Press, saying she had spoken to a member of the delegation who saw what happened.
She said Milinkovic was chatting and joking with colleagues in the garage when he suddenly strolled to the barrier and jumped.
Milinkovic was a former author and activist who opposed the authoritarian regime of Serbia's former strongman, Slobodan Milosevic.
According to diplomats and acquaintances, he was outgoing, had a warm sense of humor and worked to keep good ties with ambassadors from other ex-Yugoslav countries.
But Milinkovic had mentioned to colleagues at diplomatic functions that he was unhappy at living apart from his wife, a Serbian diplomat based in Vienna, and their 17-year-old son.
He was appointed ambassador to NATO in 2009 but had already been based in Brussels since 2004 as an envoy from the now defunct state union of Serbia and Montenegro.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was "deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Serbian ambassador," an alliance spokeswoman said.
James Appathurai, NATO deputy assistant secretary general for political affairs, said Milinkovic was “deeply respected here and very well liked.”
“He did a very professional job … there are really no good words to say things like this but certainly he will be missed here on a personal basis and on a professional basis as well,” he said.
“We have absolutely no information beyond what is in the media and what the police reports,” he added. “NATO had no contact, no personnel at all involved in this so we were very, very, as I said, surprised and shocked.”
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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