World Politics

Research Article

Explaining Defection from International Cooperation: Germany's Unilateral Recognition of Croatia

Beverly Crawforda1*

a1 University of California


In 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.

Beverly Crawford is Research Director at the Center for German and European Studies and Lecturer in the Political Economy of Industrial Societies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her most recent book is Economic Vulnerability in International Relations: East-Trade, Investment and Finance (1993). She is completing a manuscript on the political economy of ethnic and sectarian conflict.

* I would like to thank John Brady, John Leslie, James Martel, and Hans Peter Schmitz for their assistance with the research and writing of this paper. I would particularly like to acknowledge the assistance of Nick Biziouras, without whose help this project could not have been completed. I also thank Tom Banchoff, Richard Buxbaum, Dimitri Dimritov, Ernst B. Haas, Rumyana Kolarava, Thomas Rippe-Kappen, Michael Kreile, Andrei Markovits, Glenda Rosenthal, Steve Weber, and Lisa Wedeen for their comments and criticisms on earlier drafts. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and its director Bernd Scheitterlein, to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and to Norbert Schwaiger at the Council of the European Communities, for valuable assistance with interviews and for access to archival material. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Center for German and European Studies at the University of California. Finally, I wish to thank the EC and the German officials whom I interviewed for the project. For those who requested anonymity, I have cited only their institutional affiliations.