n 1991 Germany extended unilateral diplomatic recognition to Croatia and Slovenia in direct contravention of the preferences of its EC partners. In the context of Germany's postwar history of multilateralism in foreign policy, this was an unprecedented decision. As a case of defection from international cooperation, it requires explanation. This article explains how the German preference for recognition was formed and why Germany acted unilaterally when its partners had moved to adjust their policies to coordinate them with Germany's preferences. Defection from cooperation in this case is best explained as a two-level game: the source of Germany's preference for diplomatic recognition of these republics is traced to domestic political factors; its unilateral action is traced to regime weaknesses leading to negotiating failures in a changing post-cold war international environment.