Iceland's long-serving president says he will not be seeking re-election this year after leading the country for 20 years.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said in his New Year's speech on Friday that it was the right time to step down because many political uncertainties — including Iceland's application for European Union membership and its recovery from economic collapse — have been resolved.

Grimsson is the fifth president of Iceland and has been elected to the largely ceremonial post for five consecutive terms since 1996.

He said he will continue to serve the country in other ways, including working against climate change and on protecting marine resources.

The North Atlantic island nation withdrew its bid to join the European Union in March, saying its interests would be best served outside the bloc.