By Serife Cetin
ANKARA (AA) - NATO's existence was questioned in some circles just as it celebrated the 70th anniversary of its foundation this year. But the military alliance came out stronger proving its critics wrong by shifting its focus on space.
NATO recognized space as an operational domain in 2019 alongside air, land, sea and cyber.
Another new important development for NATO in 2019 was focusing on China.
A declaration at the end of the NATO leaders summit in London earlier this month referred to the rising influence of China.
"We recognize that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an alliance," the statement said.
In 2019, the allies of NATO raised their defense expenditures and the number of member states which allocated 2% of their GDP to defense expenditures rose to nine.
NATO took a big investment step for Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) in 2019 as well.
The alliance signed a $1-billion agreement with Boeing International company to modernize its AWACS aircraft.
Turkey's importance for the alliance was also repeatedly stated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg over the year, when some circles were questioning Turkey's NATO membership.
Stoltenberg said that Turkey is making a great contribution to NATO and its missions and operations, and praised its role in fighting terror and hosting 3.6 million refugees.
On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron said that NATO is "brain dead", which attracted great attention and was widely covered by international media.
Some called this statement as "disrespectful" and Stoltenberg also said that he disagrees with the statement.
The decisions NATO took in 2019 proved that the alliance is still living and it can answer new challenges.
* Writing by Fatih Hafiz Mehmet in Ankara.