It was probably a bigger step than many thought when the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Russia visted Latvia during the last few days.
It wasn't really like one church person visiting some other church persons.
He come on an official invitation by the President and the Prime Minister of Latvia. And on Riga airport was parked his very large official Russian government aircraft. His visit was treated as an official state visit.
According to the news media, it was the first visit of a Patriarch of Russia to Latvia in 900 years.
Who was there, and under which circumstances, in the 12th century was not made clear. If correct, then this was before the founding of either Riga or Moscow. An orthodox priest lost in the pagan woods on the Eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...
It's probably lost in the fog of history.
Anyhow, Alexey II has of course been to Riga before. He is in fact born in Tallinn in Estonia, and while bishop there his responsibility included the Orthodox in Latvia as well. But that was before he ascended to the heights of Moscow.
Nevertheless, he said that he hoped his visit could “set a good start for this relationship” between Latvia and Russia, and that the two countries would increase their cooperation in different fields.
It's not ping-pong diplomacy between Latvia and Russia.
It's patriarch diplomacy.